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WRIT 215 - Legal Research

Guidance on completing your Library Module assignment


For your assignment you need to identify keywords (search terms) that will help you perform the required searches for the Fact Situation you have been given. A purpose of a keyword search is to retrieve documents/cases, etc. that contain those words or phrases.

Key Techniques and Tips for Coming up with Keywords

  • You will be a more effective searcher if you take time carefully analyzing the scenario.
  • As you read through the scenario, highlight or jot down words and concepts you feel are key to understanding the situation.
  • Recognize the broad and and narrow concepts involved. For example, if a scenario involved someone stealing a high-end sports car, a broad concept keyword would be "theft" and a narrow concept keyword(s) would be "theft over $5,000". Effective keyword searches can involve a mix of broad and narrow terms.
  • When performing keyword searches in legal research databases, it is important to focus on using accepted legal terms and phrases. These types of databases will usually be restricted to official legal documents (legislation, case decisions, etc.) and they will adhere to using the accepted language of the law. So if you are searching for legislation regarding housing for seniors, a keyword search will be more effective if you use the term found in the law which is "Long-Term Care Homes".
  • Review the guides listed on left which go in to greater detail on a variety of techniques to help you develop effective keywords for your searches.

Keyword Development and Boolean Searching

The following videos provide overviews of how to take a scenario like the one in your assignment and analyze it to generate keywords.