A very useful source for research, NYTimes .com Topics Pages, was reported in the February 2009 issue of The Cyberskeptic’s Guide to Internet Research.  According to Times Topics,

Each topic page collects all the news, reference and archival information, photos, graphics, audio and video files published on topics ranging from Madonna to Myanmar[…]

Times Topics also includes links to key documents, speeches and reports.  You can find Topic pages by using the alphabetical index at the top of page, by clicking on hyperlinks within news stories or by entering terms in the website search bar. 

This is an excellent start for research on “more than 14,000 subjects.”  Some topics like the Credit Crisis, are covered more thoroughly than others like Organic Gardening; however all include links to archived news stories going back to 1981.


A survey of law librarians was recently conducted by the Advanced Legal Research Instructors at Stanford Law School’s Robert Crown Law Library and was “designed to answer a few of our key questions: which database could be canceled?, what some of the effects might be from cancellation?, and what low cost or free legal research alternatives are available and recommended?,” according to the report.  It gives thought to the age-old question, Can you live without one or the other?  The survey addresses many issues that are commonly discussed among law librarians and legal researchers, and the comments in the appendices are particularly enlightening.


An executive summary can be viewed at the blog of Stanford’s Advanced Legal Research Instructors, Legal Research Plus, and the report can be viewed here: Law Librarians and LexisNexis vs. Westlaw: Survey Results. 

The Phrase Finder is an useful site you can use to find “the meanings and origins of over 1,200 English sayings, phrases and idioms,” according to its web site.  There are detailed explanations providing the origins of all sorts of sayings.  There is a search function of course, but there’s also a  Phrase of the Week newsletter to which you can subscribe.  Some recent posts include Donkey’s years, Toodle-oo, Think outside the box, With bells on, Chop-chop and Silver bullet.

Sources used for the research include primary sources such as newspapers, books, etc., and “trusted references” such as  The Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition and The Historial Dictionary of American Slang, First Edition, according to the web site.

Thanks to David King, who wrote about it in an article published in the July/August 2008 Information Today, Fun Site Traces Origins of “Riding Shotgun,” p. 37.

If you are searching cases and want to limit your results to those documents that mention your terms a number of times, try using the term frequency features in Lexis and Westlaw. 

The Lexis field restrictor atleast requires that your terms appear a minimum number of times in a document.  The following search will retrieve cases that mention the phrase “bad faith” five times: atleast5(bad faith).

For Westlaw, put your search terms in the search box and click on the Term Frequency button to the right of the search box.  A list of your search terms is displayed, each with a drop-down box listing an at least number.  Select the terms you want to restrict and the corresponding numbers.  Click here for Westlaw Term Frequency instructions and a screen shot.

At this time, you’ll only find Westlaw’s Term Frequency button in case law, news and secondary sources.  It’s not available in statutes, administrative codes, public records or pretrial documents such as briefs or pleadings.

Green is the new black

April 28, 2008

Green initiatives have been getting a lot of coverage lately, and recently NPR did a story on e-cycling, After the Techno Lust, There’s Always E-Cycling.  According to the story, “In 2005, the EPA estimated there was about 2.2 million tons of e-waste. And about 80 percent to 85 percent of that ended up in landfills,” with mercury, lead and cadmium winding up in the groundwater and the air. “Renee Montagne discusses various e-recycling efforts with technology expert Mario Armstrong.”  From the article you can link to a variety of e-cycling resources.

I love the simplicity and comfort of Google, but have to always remind myself that no one search engine covers all the web.  There are many other search engines out there, and thanks to LibrarianInBlack for pointing out to the latest Top 100 Alternative Search Engines from AltSearchEngines.  Yes, there are some conflicting opinions about whether there really are even 100 good search engines, and you can read the comments on the post for that discussion. 

Meanwhile, there are dozens of places to explore the many facets of search, but here are a couple you may want to check out: ResourceShelf and SearchEngineLand.

50-State Surveys

March 9, 2008

If you need to survey the laws of multiple states on a particular subject, check out this recent LLRX post, Reference from Coast to Coast: Learning to Love Those 50 State Surveys.  You’ll find some very useful sources including the National Conference of State Legislatures.