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Full SINO Documentation
Boolean Operators Chart
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If you've never used a "search engine" before you can have SINO do most of the work for you. A search engine is a computer program that presents you with a list of documents that match criteria you specify. Your criteria is in the form of "show me all documents that have the words X, Y and Z in them." You can narrow the criteria, for example: "show me documents from Western Australia with the words X, Y and Z in them."
The important thing to note is that AustLII will return to you a list of documents that contain the words (or phrases) that you specify. Therefore you must choose your search words carefully. You can ask AustLII to "relevance rank" the results (this is the default), which means that the best matches will appear at the top of the list. However you will achieve best results when searching for distinctive words or phrases.
After choosing appropriate or distinctive words to search for, type them in to the search form. Then decide if you want to see documents that contain
Finally, decide what kinds of documents you are interested in. There are two types:
These are documents that are located on AustLII and mainly contain Australian primary (legislation and case law) materials and secondary materials.
World Law or Other Australian Law Documents (non-AustLII)
These are documents that are located on other peoples servers, but that contain significant and valuable legal content. They are not specifically limited to Australia (but you can ask AustLII to only return Australian material).
When ready, press Search. A list of documents will be returned to you. You can use Back on your browser to return to the search screen in order to refine searches. One option you'll notice on the search forms is Boolean query. It is explained below.
If you have used one of the popular on-line legal database systems (or even if you haven't) you probably do not need to learn anything new. Most Lexis, Status, Info-One, (and for the non-lawyers, even C and agrep) style searches are recognised. See Emulated Search Languages for more information. Alternatively, if you know a bit about text searching, you might want jump to the Boolean Operators Chart. Otherwise, read on...
When you do a Sino search, you are fundamentally searching for documents which contain some words or phrases. If you can come up with a phrase which you think is distinctive enough, just type it in, set the search method to "the Boolean phrase" and hit the return key! This will find all documents containing the exact phrase you have entered. If you want to find documents with more than one word or phrase, you use operators.
If you want more than one phrase or word to appear in the retrieved documents, put an and between them. For example, to find documents containing the phrase "moral rights" as well as the word "copyright", you would type: "moral rights and copyright" (less the quotes of course).
If, on the other hand, you want to find one term and/or another one, put an or between them. For example, to find stuff which contains the words "treaty", "convention" or "international agreement" you would search for: "treaty or convention or international agreement". If you wanted to, you could even put these two searches together - as in: "treaty or convention or international agreement and moral rights and copyright".
If you want to find two words or phrases which appear close to each other (for example, the parties to a case), you can use the near connector. If you wanted to find cases where Smith sued (or was sued by) Brown, you might type: "smith near brown".
For more information see the full Sino documentation or Boolean Operators Chart.
To limit a search to a particular database (eg High Court only) on AustLII, use the Full Search Form.
To limit a search to a particular category in World Law, go to World Law, select the category using the links, and type your search there. There is no "full search form" equivalent, because there are thousands of potential "databases".
To search a particular web site, find the web site in the World Law index, and click "search site" next to the sites link. Now your search will be over just that site. All the standard AustLII searching tips apply.
For information on boolean operators, see Boolean Operators Chart. For more information on SINO, see Full SINO Documentation.