Frequently Asked Questions


How do I search for cases by topic on Lexis+?

Our answer:

As a comparison, try repeating the same search in Lexis+. After logging into Lexis+ with your student portal password. Type "stop and search" into the search box on the home page, and select cases from drop down menu in the search box, click and "Search". (It is important to enclose this phrase within inverted commas, otherwise Lexis+ will search for "stop" and "search" as separate words, rather than as a phrase). You should retrieve about 670 cases. This again is too many hits to examine, so you will need to refine the search.

Go to the Cases advanced search by going back to the home page, and select cases under content type, then advanced search. You will notice that there is a "Summary" search box, Search the "Summary" box to find cases where your search terms are found in the case Catchwords, Headnotes, Decisions and Facts of the report. This search is therefore the same as searching the "Category" field in vLex Justis. Remove your previous search, and in the "Summary" search box, type "stop and search" and then scroll down and select the red "Search" button. You should retrieve approximately 42 results, a much more manageable number.

An alternative way of limiting the search would be to apply a date restriction. Under timeline of the left side of the results list, restrict the date range so that the date is after 1st January 2005. You can do this by typing the date in the first date box or using the timeline slider then selecting search. Your search results should now be much more manageable.

Now try to search Lexis+ for cases involving negligent dentists. Go back to home page and. In the search box, type negligen* /5 (dentist* or dental), then select cases from the content type drop down in the search box. Please note some of the key features of this search:

  • The asterix (*) is used so that the database will search for other variations of the word, e.g. negligent or negligence, dentist or dentists. This use of the asterix to find other variations of a word is called "truncation".
  • "w/5" is used so that the database will search for the words "negligence" or "negligent" only if they appear within 5 words of "dentist", "dentists", "dentistry" or "dental". This helps to make your search more relevant and specific.
  • Notice also that the words "dentist*" and "dental" are separated by the word "or" and enclosed in brackets. This means that the database will search for EITHER dentist (or dentists) OR dental.

Now click "Search". You should retrieve about 60 cases. As an experiment, go edit your search and replace /5 with /2, and then repeat the search. Notice that you have made the search even more specific, retrieving about 37 cases - you are now searching the database for negligence or negligent if they appear within 2 words of dentist, dentists or dental.

Next: Searching for cases by topic on Westlaw