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-Spencer L. Simons, former Director, O'Quinn Law Library and Associate Professor of Law



Thursday, August 16, 2012

Some Welcome Additions to Lexis Advance

In its most recent release, Lexis Advance added some new functionality that gets it a little closer to being as good a legal research tool as lexis.com. Two of the least obvious of these welcome additions are the new Snapshot view and the new Recently Viewed icon.

Snapshot

The new Snapshot view is basically an initial overview of results. Each Content Type searched is displayed as a "pod" that can be opened or closed. When opened, the first three documents from that Content Type are displayed. If you would like to examine any of those three documents, you can click on them from here; however, if you want to see any of the other results for that Content Type, you must click on the Content Type's tab. Once they work out the kinks in the Relevancy rankings, this will be a very useful feature.

I really like the Snapshot view, but I wish it also displayed the number of results for each Content Type as well. For example, beside the Content Type's title (e.g., "Cases") in its pod, it would be helpful if it displayed the number of results available through that Content Type's tab, rather than requiring the user to actually click on the Content Type's tab to discover the number of results. Including this information on the Snapshot view would make it much more useful. At a glance, you would be able to tell if your search needs to be tweaked because it is either too broad or too narrow.

Recently Viewed Icon

Another new feature I really like is the Recently Viewed icon, also known as the Binoculars icon because, well, it looks like a pair of binoculars. If this icon appears to the right of a document in a results list (whether the full results list or just the Snapshot view), it means that you have viewed this particular document at some point in the last 30 days. In addition, if you move your cursor over the icon, it will even display the date you most recently viewed the document.

These are some very helpful, albeit minor, improvements to the Lexis Advance product. I may examine some of the other recent changes in future blog posts, but I hope that the developers will continue to make these types of user-friendly changes in the future.

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