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Chapter 2: Searching the Archives

As you begin to acquaint yourself with Virginia Lawyers Weekly’s new Web site, you most likely will want to take advantage of what is unquestionably the core of the site – the Archives.

The online Archives contains all material published in the paper since 1993, including news articles, opinion digests, verdict & settlement reports and special features. With the launch of our new site, the content of the Archives has remained intact. The method for searching, however, has changed.

Enter the Google search appliance. Following newspaper industry trends, the VLW Archives now uses the same technology which drives the popular search engine. In fact, searching our site has become similar to using Google to find information on the Web.
For quick access to our Archives, locate the box at the top of the screen with the Google logo, type in your search term and hit enter. Search terms can be any keyword relevant to your research: area of practice, name of a judge or attorney, or even a court or VLW number.

If you’d prefer more advanced search options, highlight the “Archives” button on the navigation bar. Either click directly on the button or select “search” from the pulldown menu to access our full search page.

Enhancing your search results

Depending on how specific your search terms are, the number of hits will vary. If the count exceeds 200, only the 200 most relevant articles will appear. Being as specific with your keywords as possible will give you the most concise and accurate results.

For example, say you needed to research our coverage of premises liability cases that resulted from landlord negligence. A good place to start would be typing all the major keywords into the search box as such: premises liability landlord negligence.

As with most Internet searches, navigating the VLW Archives search requires some level of trial and error. Those who have used online search engines may be familiar with Boolean commands, a series of connector terms typed in all capital letters which are used to manipulate search results. Google, while for the most part Boolean-friendly, handles these commands somewhat differently than our old search system. To obtain the most accurate results, here are some tips:

• Typing premises AND liability will produce articles that include both of these terms in their text. But since the Google search assumes AND by default, it’s not necessary to type the command in the search field.

• Entering the OR command between keywords will expand your results by searching for articles that include either term. You can also substitute the | character for OR; so typing liability OR negligence and liability | negligence will produce the same results.

• To search for phrases, or specific words that occur together, use quotation marks. Entering “landlord negligence” will only return articles where these keywords appear beside each other.

• If you wanted to research articles about premises liability cases, excluding those involving apartment complexes, you can omit a term by typing the minus symbol in front of the word you wish to leave out. Google does not recognize the Boolean term NOT. The string: “premises liability” –apartment will give you the desired results.

By default, VLW’s search engine will pull results from our entire Archives. There are, however, several ways to define a narrower search field. On the main Archives page there are several options selectable in the search box.

If you would prefer to search only within our compilation of opinion digests or verdicts & settlements, select one of these categories from the menu.

Another setting you can customize is the order in which your results are displayed. Under sort order, you are given the option to sort results by relevance or by date. The “relevance” selection utilizes Google’s PageRank algorithm, a technology used to analyze and rank search results based on their “weight” or importance in relation to your search terms.

If you’d prefer your results to display based on their publish date, selecting the “date” option will sort your results in reverse chronological order. If you are searching for articles published within a specific date range, you can type in or select the dates by clicking on the calendar icons – similar to ordering plane tickets or booking a hotel room.

Some tips for browsing

While our search engine will help you locate precise articles, some users prefer to browse through our content rather than perform a specific search. For the latest content, highlight the Archives tab on the top navigation bar. You will see a pulldown menu which gives you the option to browse categories of our material such as news stories, opinion digests and verdict & settlement reports.

If you want to browse older content, select a date range on the main Archives page. To make this type of search possible, all of our articles are tagged with the phrase “Virginia Lawyers Weekly.” Therefore, typing in the term “Virginia” will generate a global list of our entire content published between the dates you select.

Subscribers only

As you begin to use our new site, there will come a point where you will be prompted for a username and password. A large portion of our content, including the Archives, is available to VLW subscribers only. This also includes access to opinion digests, verdicts & settlements, a selection of our full-text opinions and older news content.

As a subscriber, you are able to register for access to all areas of the Web site. If you already know your login, just type in the same username and password you used for our old site and you’ll gain immediate access. If you forgot your login information or have never set up account, follow the links on the login page and you will be walked through the necessary steps.

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