Loislaw interprets certain words called "connectors" as signals for the search engine rather than as terms to locate in a document.
Click on the blue bar below to learn more about using multiple connectors and searching for phrases.
|Connectors and Phrases||Multiple Connectors|
See below for a brief general introduction to connectors.
Connectors and their effects on search results
Users often need to combine two or more search terms in a single query. A special class of words is reserved for this purpose. Known as 'connectors' or 'logical operators,' the words are considered 'reserved' because they cannot generally be deployed as search terms. Some common connectors include and, or, not, near, and nearx.
Depending upon how they are used, connectors may narrow or expand, refine or broaden the scope of search results. Users may want to experiment with different combinations of connectors to enhance their results.
The following table lists Loislaw connectors along with their respective shortcut symbols. The table also defines the effect that a connector has on search results. (Please note that users may type either the word or the symbol when writing a query, but not both.)
|AND||&||Returns document containing both search terms||employer and harassment||employer & harassment|
|OR|||||Returns document containing either term||automobile or vehicle||automobile | vehicle|
|NOT||%||Returns document containing the initial term, but no term following "NOT"||pistol not rifle||pistol % rifle|
|NEAR||/||Returns document containing both terms within 20 words of each other||modification near contract||modification / contract|
|NEARX||/X||Returns document containing both terms within X number of words of each other||estate near5 decedent||estate /5 decedent|
|THESAURUS||~||Returns document containing the term following the tilde (~) plus synonyms of that term||thesaurus murder and gun||~ murder and gun|
|Note: See Spell Check & Thesaurus for more information.|
|"x x"||"||Returns document containing an exact phrase
Note: Keyword variants such as plurals will not be retrieved when using quotation marks.
|"plea of confession and avoidance"
Note: connectors enclosed in quotation marks are directly searchable, and cease to be regarded as special operators by the search engine.
Connectors and phrase searching with quotation marks
Loislaw will treat connectors as keywords whenever they occur as part of a phrase in quotation marks. For example, when enclosed in quotation marks, the word "...and..." will be located in a document along with the other words in a phrase.
Loislaw does not otherwise require quotation marks to search for phrases. They may be used, however, in certain situations requiring very strict word matching: for example, quotation marks will keep Loislaw from searching for variants on words in a phrase (otherwise, Loislaw automatically finds variants like plurals).
It should be noted that Loislaw treats phrase searching and the connector 'and' differently than some common internet search sites. Many sites require quotation marks for exact phrase searching; if multiple keywords are entered without quotation marks, the search engine finds documents in which all the keywords occur, regardless of their positions in the text. In this environment, the search engines behave as if the connector Ďandí had been entered between each keyword.
In the absence of connectors, Loislaw interprets multiple keywords as a phrase, and returns only documents in which all the words occur precisely in the order entered by the user. This configuration makes it easier for the Loislaw user to search for phrases (which do not require quotation marks). The more strict interpretation of the connector 'and' gives the user more direct control over search behavior and the quantity of results.
Multiple connectors, parentheses, and search priority
For maximum refinement of search results, users may combine two or more connectors in a single query. As queries become more complex, search terms and multiple connectors may, in turn, be grouped by parentheses.
Parentheses affect the priority in which search criteria are evaluated, and may drastically alter the results. In search expressions with parentheses, Loislaw evaluates the innermost parentheses first, then (moving outward) proceeds to the next set of parentheses. In search expressions without parentheses, Loislaw evaluates the connectors in a particular order that is prescribed by Boolean logic:
Compare the following search expressions with regard to priority of evaluation and parentheses:
a and b or c a and (b or c)
In the first expression, Loislaw searches for all documents containing both a and b. Loislaw then finds all documents containing c, and returns a list of both sets, i.e., all documents with a and b together plus all documents with c. In this scenario, documents with c only may be found.
In the second expression, where the user has entered parentheses as part of the search criteria, Loislaw first searches for all documents that contain b or c. Note that this set will include documents that contain only b as well as only c. Loislaw then searches the resulting documents for a and returns a subset of documents also including a. In this scenario, no documents with c only will be found.
The examples below further illustrate the flexibility and power of parenthetical expressions in searching large amounts of data.
|employee near2 (terminate or discharge)||Returns document containing 'employee' within two words of 'terminate' or 'discharge'.
The second portion of the expression, "terminate or discharge" will be evaluated first; all documents containing either word will be evaluated for the proximity of 'employee' within 2 words.
|(smoking near5 death) not cancer||Returns document containing 'smoking' within 5 words of 'death' and excluding 'cancer'.
The search engine satisfies the parenthetical criterion first and then discards all documents containing 'cancer'.
|(depression or anxiety) and suicide near20 inhibitor||Returns document containing the terms 'depression' or 'anxiety' and 'suicide' within 20 words of 'inhibitor'.
The 'or' expression is evaluated first. All documents containing either word of the parenthetical set are then searched for the coincidence of 'suicide' within 20 words of 'inhibitor'.
|depression or (anxiety and suicide) near20 inhibitor||Returns document containing the terms 'depression' or 'anxiety' and 'suicide' within 20 words of 'inhibitor'.
Note the different use of parentheses compared to the previous example. The search results differ because the terms are grouped differently. All documents containing both 'anxiety' and 'suicide' within 20 words of 'inhibitor' are collected; then all documents containing 'depression' are collected. The total number of documents here is much higher than that returned from the previous search and would probably not represent a desired result. Most documents simply containing 'depression' are probably not relevant.