Getting to Know LexisNexis

Many times students will use Academic Search Premier as their primary database when starting research due to its multi-disciplinary scope.  Our campus also subscribes to LexisNexis, another multi-discipline database that provides access to full-text news, business, and legal publications.  Apprehension of use by students may stem from the unfamiliar format that the database defaults to when accessed.  By learning how to navigate through the interface using a few tricks, students will have yet another powerful database to access for their research.

LexisNexis defaults to a “general search” form, which is geared toward a simple query and searches across the most popular content.  You may want to start your research here if you are not sure which sources to use. The “general search” automatically incorporates terms and connectors (Boolean operators such as “and” and “or”)   based on what was entered.  Simply type in a few words or short phrases that describes your topic, then click the search button. Using this feature will often yield hundreds of results.

The “power search” has many advantages, and I urge students to view the tutorials available on the left hand side of the screen to learn more. One main advantage of the “power search” is that you can choose between terms and connectors or natural language. Select terms and connectors to retrieve more specific information such as a relationship between the search words entered, comprehensive coverage of an issue, or specific information in a document. It is best to select natural language when the topic is more conceptual than specific or when a search is complex and you are uncertain which terms to use.

LexisNexis offers a variety of search options. At the top of the search page there are several category tabs, each designed to search a particular type of content.  There is a news tab which can be used to search within a specific source, the New York Times for example.  The legal tab allows you to search search within law review journals, federal and state cases or codes, tax law, and international legislation. Under the business tab you can  search for information such as corporate news, financial and business information for specific companies. Finally, use the people tab to search for biographical information about individuals using the biographical search form.

I’ve have just briefly touched on a few of the basic features of LexisNexis. I suggest that you experiment with some of the options I have discussed above to get familiar with LexisNexis, then take the tutorials. Over the next several weeks I will highlight specific features within LexisNexis. If there is a specific feature you would like me to discuss, please add a comment or question. LexisNexis is just another powerful tool the library offers that can empower you to effectively access the information you need to succeed in the academic and professional world.

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