4. Research strategies - How to use World Law
4.1. There is no perfect legal research tool
The number of 'web pages' on the Internet already estimated as exceeding
one billion. The number of law sites, the complexity of their content,
and their rapid expansion, makes a comprehensive catalog for law impossible.
The best Internet-wide search engines only manage to make less than half
of these web pages searchable, and it is completely unknown what percentage
of web pages relating to law are searchable.
There is therefore no perfect tool for legal research, and any
research strategy has to start with these two points:
World Law / DIAL is just one good starting point for legal research, but
should not be the only tool used to find web sites/
Always use both search engines and catalogs, because each has strengths
that complement the other.
4.2. Always check 'Other Indexes'
World Law has one of the Internet's largest catalogs of law sites, but
there are many other valuable catalogs (also called 'indexes' and 'directories')
of law sites on the web, and some of them will contain valuable links to
law sites not yet provided by World Law.
>> Other Indexes page lists a very wide range of other Internet legal
indexes available. A limited scope search from this page will often provide
a very high value list of the specific pages in other indexes that index
a particular country or subject.
Many county and subject pages in World Law have an 'Other Indexes'
sub category in their Top set of subcategories. It is always worthwhile
checking the "Other Indexes' page.
A few of the most useful other indexes which give some degree
of global coverage are:
These can all be found on the World
>> Other Indexes page.
Social Science Information Gateway (SOSIG): Law Gateway - Institute for
Advanced Legal Studies, London
Guide to Law Online: Nations of the World - Law Library of Congress, Washington
Guide to Foreign and International Legal Databases - New York University
Foreign and International Law (WashLaw Web) - Washburn University
Go to the World
>> Other Indexes page, and inspect at least two of the indexes recommended
above, plus at least two of the other world-wide indexes that look interesting
Go to the 'Other Indexes By Country@' subcategory, and look at one or more
of the other indexes for:
Go to the 'Other Law Subject Indexes@' subcategory, and look at:
a country of interest to you.
at least two of the subject-oriented global indexes listed at the bottom
of the page;
the range of indexes available for at least two subjects that are of interest
to you, using the subcategories at the top of the page.
4.3. Always use an Internet-wide search engine
Internet-wide search engines have different strengths and weaknesses than
World Law's search engine. They cover all types of subject matter, not
just law. They are likely to cover some law sites not in World Law, but
to miss others.
>> Search Engines@ page provides a list of over 20 Internet-wide search
Some of the best Internet-wide search engines at present are:
Guided Tour - Using Google and Alta Vista
Go to the World
>> Search Engines@ page.
Go to the Google search engine:
Go to the Alta Vista search engine or to Raging Search. Try
the same exercise as you tried above for Google.
At present, we think this is the best internet-wide search engine for law.
Go to the page explaining
the basics of Google (it is difficult to find on the site).
If you search from Google's front page, Google only finds those pages
that include all of your search terms (ie it gives an automatic 'all
of these words' search).
If you want 'any of these words' you must join the words with an 'OR' operator
eg gun OR firearm OR rifle
You cannot use truncation. You cannot put 'neglign*' but must put 'negligent
OR negligently OR negligence'
Search Google to find Mongolian legislation. Try these three different
searches and note the difference in the number of items retrieved. Which
one gives these best result, and why?
Mongolia Mongolian legislation
Mongolia OR Mongolian legislation
Find the range of languages that you can search in using Google.
Look at the Advanced Search'
options, and look at the Advanced
search tips. Search for legislation only over web sites from Vietnam
(ie those from the .vn domain).
The Basic Search and Advanced Search information is overleaf in the printed
version of this paper.