Getting the Most from your Google Search

Good tips!

RIPS Law Librarian Blog

The 2012 Ross-Blakley Law Library student survey revealed that 57% of the student body at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law begins their research by conducting a Google search. Truthfully, I also frequently use Google to conduct my own research. It can be both an efficient and accurate search tool if you know how to utilize its features. Below are a few tips to help you get the best results out of your Google searches.

Advanced Search

The Google Advanced Search template allows you to use syntax tools to craft a better question with Boolean operators and provides filters (such as date and language) to narrow the search results. It also gives you the ability to limit your search to a single type of document, such as a PDF file or PowerPoint presentation, by utilizing the “file type” drop-down menu.

Search Specific Types of Websites

You can limit your Google search to…

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The Search Engine That Doesn’t Track You Just Got Better – DuckDuckGo.

The Researching Paralegal

DuckDuckGo, The Search Engine That Doesn’t Track You, Makes Terrific Overhaul Official, by Zach Miners, PC World

DuckDuckGo, the privacy-themed search engine, has received a major redesign with enhanced search tools that could usher in a wave of new users.

The tools, announced Tuesday, include a variety of requested changes, including auto-suggest and local search, that make the site function more like Google, but with DuckDuckGo’s privacy promises still in place. 

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DuckDuckGo’s search engine is one of a number of online services that have gained increased attention following disclosures around government surveillance leaked last year by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. According to its privacy policy, DuckDuckGo keeps no record of users’ searches, prevents them from being leaked to other sites, and does not log IP addresses. The site still has ads, but they’re not targeted using personal…

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The Library of Congress’ Virtual Reference Shelf.

The Researching Paralegal

Virtual Reference Shelf, Library of Congress

Do you for some kind of inexplicable reason want to look up The Guide to Government Abbreviations? It’s here. In fact, the Virtual Reference Shelf has in-depth information on Abbreviations, Art, Business, Calculators, Children & Parents (e.g., The U.S. Government Guide for Kids), Dictionaries & Thesauri, Directories, Education, Encyclopedias, English Language and Literature, Full-Text Books & Periodicals, Genealogy, General Reference Resources, Grant Resources, Health/Medical, U.S. History – and more. Check it out. It is more than you probably expect. -CCE

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New Jersey Legal (& Local) News

This just in: Bob Ambrogi reports that ALM, publisher of the New Jersey Law Journal, is up for sale. Read more about this on LawSites Blog:

Quo Vadis?

(Disclaimer: the content of this post is not meant as an endorsement for any commercial product mentioned.)

As a legal professional, it’s a good idea to stay up-to-date with current events within your local community and area of practice.  Legal newspapers or periodicals will inform you of relevant court decisions, the emergence of new laws, changes to existing laws, and may also include substantive legal articles written by experts in their fields (and sometimes, gossip).  Our local source for this information is the New Jersey Law Journal (NJLJ).  You can review a print copy of this publication from the Circulation desk.  (Note: this item is on reserve, so you will be asked to leave a form of ID.)

Rutgers Law Students and Faculty can also review the NJLJ (and similar legal newspapers from other cities and regions) online using Lexis Nexis (*UPDATED: see below).  From the main page, select the…

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11 Mobile Apps for [not just] Law School Students

Always good to have access to information in your back pocket!


Some of these mobile apps are great for lawyers and librarians too. HeinOnline, Lexis Advance, WestLawNext, NOLO’s Plain English Law Dictionary, Camera to PDF, JotNot, ABA Journal,SCOTUSblog

Law lIbrarians were the sources for this list. Nice shoutout to our expertise!

“If in doubt, librarians say to go to the law library or check your library’s website to find the best apps and verify which have the most reliable information.

“‘In the law, of course, it’s very important that you get the law from the right sources,’ says Wisconsin’s Turner.”


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New Tech in the Law Library

Some of you may have noticed the new equipment that we have on the tables between the Circulation Desk and the Reference Desk.

The first item, with which you might be familiar, is our repurposed 20″ TV with a built in DVD player. Last year, we started advertising our DVD collection via the LCD screens around the school, and now we want to make it even easier to watch those skills DVDs in the library (this is especially helpful if you don’t have a DVD drive in your laptop).   Headphones are available at the Circulation Desk for your listening enjoyment (and the quiet for those around you).

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 1.44.48 PM

Our other new  item is probably less familiar. This machine is called ScanPro2000, and it’s equipped to scan 16mm roll film, 35mm roll film, Aperture cards, positive and negative microfiche, microfilm, and micro cards with expert precision. Neat, huh?! The scanner has OCR (or “optical character recognition”) features and can turn your scans into searchable PDF documents! (Doesn’t that make you itch to get into your next research project?!) We kindly ask that you seek out a reference librarian before using this machine.

If you have questions regarding either piece of new technology, please do not hesitate to ask a reference librarian or email the library at


Written by CDS.

Status of the Pennsylvania Voter ID Law

According to an article from Bloomberg Business Week, a total of nine states  have passed laws requiring a photo ID to vote. Opponents of these laws argue that this requirement may disenfranchise many eligible voters, especially elderly, minority, and low-income citizens.

At the heart of this issue is Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (via the Legal Information Institute), enacted as a directive towards certain states where there was a history of “anti-minority election practices.” Section 5 required that these states seek approval from the Department of Justice or a federal court before making any changes to their voting laws.   States seeking changes to their voting laws argue that this pre-clearance mandate is both costly and outdated.   Many of the states caught up in this legislative battle are the “swing states” whose votes could be determinative in the November elections.  In Pennsylvania, for example, preliminary data suggests that the new voter ID law could disenfranchise as much as 9% of the voting population.

Given the upcoming presidential election, state courts are trying to work with their colleagues in the legislatures by not undermining their law-making powers while balancing the rights of those voting populations.  Furthermore, it is unsurprising that the courts are split on the constitutionality of such laws.

In Pennsylvania, the new voter ID law requires voters to present a qualifying, current photo ID to cast a ballot. In the case of Applewhite v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the case contesting the new law, Judge Robert Simpson of the Commonwealth Court did not grant the injunction sought by the challengers.  Instead, the Commonwealth denied the injunction based on the “predictive” belief that Pennsylvania government officials would, with enough time before the general election, have a system in place whereby citizens would be able to obtain a qualifying ID.

On Tuesday, September 18, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania vacated the Commonwealth Court’s judgment, skeptical of the government’s plan and ability to have such a system in place with adequate time to avoid disenfranchising some voters.  The Per Curiam opinion remanded the case back to Judge Simpson, with a directive to evaluate the feasibility of implementing the plan for voters to obtain qualifying ID in concordance with Pennsylvania’s mandate of “liberal access” to obtaining such an ID.

Of the 7-judge panel, two justices voiced their dissent.  Justice Debra McCloskey Todd’s opinion cites to the majority’s acknowledgment that the “law is not being implemented according to its terms” considering the short time until the election.  Both dissenters agreed on the fact that the majority has, essentially, given the Commonwealth Court another opportunity to “predict” what government officials can do with respect to implementing the law in time for the election. Justice Seamus McCaffery emphasized that, given the facts, circumstances, and time frame, the majority should have taken bolder action in its decision.

With the general election less than 2 months away, those of us right across the river from Philadelphia–birthplace of the Bill of Rights–are on the edge of our seats waiting to hear what the Commonwealth Court will have to say.

More information about other states’ voter ID laws can be found from:

The National Conference of State Legislatures, and

The Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Written by CDS.