Monday, January 9, 2012

New-look LegalTrac

The more web-like LegalTrac is here. So what have we got? Open it now and have look.
But first, a reminder about what LegalTrac does. It indexes journals related to law, since 1980ish. Although it has some full text, it is chiefly bibliographic, based on a beautifully crafted set of subject headings. So you use it to work out what you want, and get the article somewhere else, usually via the handy Article Linker button that sits within LegalTrac.

Advanced Search: key things to note
I'll start here, as this is where the links from the Law Subject Guide take you. If you have used LegalTrac before, this will be reassuringly familiar.
  • Search Assist. This second-guesses what you want. I was looking for things on Lange v Atkinson so typed in: lange. Search Assist offered lane change; Lange, Jessica; Lange, David and a few others, but did not suggest the case. Search Assist got in the way and got on my nerves, so I turned it off. Choice is good.
  • Limit results. By default LegalTrac will limit your results to documents with full text and to peer-reviewed publications. Most of LegalTrac is bibliographic (i.e. not full text) and a lot of valuable material is not classed as peer-reviewed (think, New Zealand Law Journal), so I recommend removing those limits. Do this via the Preferences option (via the Tools menu) and your changes will apply until you quit. There are other limits too, some more useful than others - limiting by date is potentially useful, but chances are you will never need to exclude circus reviews from your search results.
Search Results list: key things to note
  • The left-hand side bar has options to refine your search i.e. to search within those results. In this context, the Related Subjects (i.e. the subject headings) will narrow your search.
  • The main window shows the search summary (greyed out at the top) and lists the records. If you want to go straight to the full text, you get either a PDF icon or the Article Linker link (if there is no full text in LegalTrac).
Document view: key things to note
  • The left-hand side bar shows you Related Subjects. In this context, the Related Subjects (i.e. the subject headings) will expand your search - you can link to all other LegalTrac records with those subject headings. It's worth thinking about this for a moment, and comparing it to the Search Results view, where those same Related Subjects headings can be used as limits.
  • The main window shows the bibliographic record itself - not much there, really. But you can use the links to find other articles by those authors, or to find other articles in that journal. And you can use the Article Linker button to look for the full text, if there is no PDF.
  • The right-had side bar has options for printing, downloading, exporting to EndNote (that's via the Citation Tools link).
 Enough for now. The Advanced Search is not that different, but it is still good.

No comments:

Post a Comment