Fastcase Tips: Constructing a Broad Keyword Search

Get your week started off right with a Fastcase Research Tip. Today, we have tips for creating a broad search query. When you are getting started on a new research project, it is usually a good idea to start with a broad search query and then narrow your query until you get an acceptable number of results. Use these tips to make sure you are not inadvertently excluding decisions that address your topic.

  1. Use synonyms. Try including common synonyms for the keywords in your query. For example, if one of your search terms is car, include automobile and vehicle in your search as well.

Instead of: “fourth amendment” & car

Try: “fourth amendment” & car or “fourth amendment” & vehicle or “fourth amendment” & automobile

  1. Use the wildcard operator. By truncating a search term down to the root of the word and adding an asterisk at the end, your search with automatically pick-up multiple forms of the word including plurals. For example, a search for contract* will pick-up all of the following terms:

Contractor, contracting, contracts, contracting, contracted, etc.

  1. Avoid quotation marks. Rather than putting a phrase in quotation marks, try constructing a query using keywords in the phrase connected with the within operator. This will reduce the chances that you are excluding cases that use slightly different words.

Instead of: breach of contract

Try: breach w/3 contract because this picks up phrases like breached its contract, breach of the contract, etc.

#1 Legal Research App

Winner of the prestigious American Association of Law Libraries (New Product) Award, Fastcase for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone is used by more attorneys than any other legal app according to the ABA. Anyone may use the app for free to access Fastcase's comprehensive legal research database on the go.