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6.3. Limiting the scope of searches

DIAL Search is intended to provide an effective means of searching for legislation-related materials, first and foremost the text of legislation itself, but also legislation-related documents such as Parliamentary explanatory materials, law reform reports, international agreements, and law journals.

However, the DIAL Search prototype is constructed within a broader set of searchable information, the World Law Search facility on AustLII, which means that the complete collection of searchable information also includes case law, law indexes, indigenous law materials and other collections. As explained in the preceding two Chapters, this `multi-threaded' approach of various projects such as Project DIAL sharing the underlying organisational structure and software of a world-wide law collection makes each project more viable. From the user's perspective, it is also the case that most Project DIAL users are likely in some of their research to find it valuable to search case-law, Internet law indexes, and other collections outside the formal scope of Project DIAL.

The variety and large quantity of data which is searchable via DIAL Search / World Law Search (already over 60,000 pages, and this is only a small fraction of what is proposed) make it necessary to provide a variety of mechanisms to make it easier for users to limit the scope of their searches. At present, the main method employed is the construction of `Libraries', but limitation of searches to particular databases, and limitations to particular geographical domains are being developed.

6.3.1. Libraries

All remote sites which are made searchable by DIAL Search / World Law Search will be categorised (at the time the web spider is sent to index them) into a `Library', a subset of all of the searchable content.

Two initial Libraries have been created, the Legislation Library for DIAL (which is the default search scope for DIAL Search), and the Law Indexes Library for World Law Search. Other content has not yet been categorised into a Library. All of the searchable content (whether or not in a specific Library as yet) is searchable under the All Libraries option (which is the default option for World Law Search).

Changing from `All Libraries' to `Law Indexes Library'

The value of the Legislation Library is obvious: users who are only looking for legislative models on a particular subject can restrict their search to this Library.

The value of the Internet Indexes Library is that it allows searches in relation to a topic or country that find the precise pages of links in the best Internet law indexes that deal with the topic or country, so that users do not have to go to the `front page' of each major index in order to determine, for example whether the Library of Congress or Lexadin or FindLaw has a page for Malaysia. This is illustrated by the first 10 items of 39 found in a search for `Malaysia':

Other Libraries to be created as part of Project DIAL include Law Reform, Law Journals and International Agreements. Other Libraries to be created within World Law Search include Courts & Case Law, Indigenous Law, Industrial Law and Privacy Law, as parts of other projects separate from Project DIAL. The result will be a very valuable choice of Libraries to allow more specific searching for all users.

6.3.2. Other proposed forms of search limitation

A number of other methods of limiting the scope of searches are being implemented in order to provide greater precision in search results.

Limiting searches to a particular database

As discussed in Chapter 5, DIAL Search already has the capacity to limit searches to materials from particular sites, and this has been implemented in a number of embedded searches in DIAL Index. This function allows DIAL Search to be used to search specific sites which have no search engine of their own, or have a search engine which does not have the same features as the SINO search engine used for DIAL Search.

An enhancement of this approach, which will allow users to select any site which is searchable in DIAL Search and search only that site, is that the button in DIAL Index which indicates that a site is searchable in DIAL Search will also be used to take the user to DIAL Search with the subsequent search scope limited only to that site.

Limiting searches to a country domain

Also under development is an option on the DIAL Search form which will allow a user to limit the scope of a search to sites located in a particular country, by use of that country's two letter country domain identifier (zm for Zambia, vn for Vietnam, tr for Turkey etc). It will be very useful to be able to search, say, over all law sites located in China, or in India.

When used in combination with limiting scope by Libraries, this will give a very precise form of searching (eg `all Canadian legislation' or `all Australian law reform materials'), but one which is broader than searching a single site, and does not require the user to know in advance which sites exist.

Limiting searches by language of documents

As the range of non-English materials searchable in DIAL Search increases, it is likely to become valuable to be able to limit searches to materials in a particular language. This will probably be implemented by the indexer indicating the language of non-English materials at the time of adding them to DIAL Search, with an option for users to exclude or include materials in particular languages.

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