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Research Tip

Finding Westlaw and Lexis Nexis E-Treatises by David Kullman J.D., M.A.L.S.

One of the challenges of using any electronic database, especially ones as comprehensive as Westlaw Next and LexisNexis Advance is that they make available so many different kinds of resources. When searching for primary sources like cases, statutes and regulations it’s not difficult to focus and limit the number of results by setting search parameters that quickly narrow hits to the proper court, agency, or legislative body.

But when the goal of Westlaw or NexisLexis research isn’t simply primary materials but also secondary sources such as online books (E-treatises) it’s often much more difficult to narrow the search parameters. Sometimes jurisdiction or author or even practice area won’t limit the search results enough. For example, a Westlaw Next search looking for “contracts” produces 10,000 hits in secondary sources alone. Narrowing the search still further so that it looks only for the term in “texts and treatises” databases still produces over 550 hits. That is simply too many to examine either efficiently or cost effectively.

To assist researchers in finding the “right” E-treatise, SLU Law Library has recently added to its electronic catalog over 4,600 titles of secondary sources contained in LexisNexis’ and Westlaw’s online databases. The advantage this provides to a researcher is that it eliminates the need to look both online and then in the catalog to make sure they’ve selected “the best” resources available. Now a search of the online catalog for the keywords “contracts” and “forms” will provide direct links to Westlaw’s Williston on Contracts and LexisNexis’ Warren’s Forms of Agreements as well as traditional print resources that might otherwise have been overlooked. A search of the Library’s electronic catalog will provide the most relevant hits possible for subjects, keywords, titles, or names. If the resources are in print, their location in the library will be given. If they are online in either LexisNexis or Westlaw, a single click of the mouse will jump users directly to either the databases’ sign-in screens or if they are already logged on, directly to the specific E-treatise’s search screen.