AALL Spectrum

AALL Spectrum / November/December 2018 / Volume 23, Number 2

AALL Spectrum / Published by American Association of Law Libraries

Issue link: http://epubs.aallnet.org/i/1038608

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Page 35 of 47

34 AALL SPECTRUM | WWW.AALLNET.ORG TECHNOLOGY I n a recent Law Library Journal article titled "The Algorithm as a Human Artifact: Implications for Legal [Re]Search," Professor Susan Nevelow Mart examined several major online legal data- bases and showed that they returned different results to identically worded queries based on the preferences and biases of their search algorithms. (Read the article at bit.ly/LLJS17algorithm.) In the course of her research, Professor Mart also ran a small-scale test to see whether prefiltering or postfiltering a Testing Westlaw's search algorithm for answers. BY KEVIN ROTHENBERG search returned fewer results in each of the databases. "Prefiltering" is a method of search- ing full text legal databases where a researcher first applies as many limit- ing filters as possible (e.g., filtering by jurisdiction, content type, publication date, etc.), and then runs a natural language search within the database. "Postfiltering," on the other hand, is where a researcher searches the entire database using natural language first, and then applies filters to the results that come back. PREFILTERING VS. POSTFILTERING: WHICH IS THE BEST METHOD FOR SEARCHING?

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