Developing a Search: Natural Language vs. Terms and Connectors

Carefully choosing and entering search terms is key to getting the results you want. Nexis Uni® supports both Natural Language and Terms and Connectors searches and automatically determines which type of search to run, based on the search terms you enter at the main search page.

Natural Language Searches

A natural language search enables you to enter your search terms as a question using the words, phrases, citations, and syntax you would use if asking another person about the information you are seeking. In a natural language search, Nexis Uni analyzes your search query both to uncover the significant terms it contains and to interpret its actual meaning.

To develop a natural language search:

  • Use terms that you might use when describing your research topic to another person.

  • For example, to find articles about efforts in the fast food industry to use recyclable packaging, you might use this search:

    • What efforts has the fast food industry made to use recyclable packages?

  • Or, you can use just the most important terms and phrases, in any order:

    • recycle package fast food

Note: To see which words that are ignored in a Natural Language search, see Words Ignored During a Natural Language Search.

Terms and Connectors Searches

By contrast, a Terms and Connectors search consists of multiple words or phrases connected to each other by special operational terms called connectors. The connectors identify the relationships that must exist between those terms in order to produce relevant research results. For example, Terms and Connectors searches help you find documents where a given word or phrase is in the same paragraph as a second word or phrase or to find documents that contain a given word or phrase, but not certain other words or phrases, and so on. An example of a Terms and Connectors search would be:

capital AND NOT gains

The following help page contains information about forming a search query using connectors: Use Search Connectors

Working with Search Results

Because each type of search may produce different results, after your search results appear, Nexis Uni lets you choose the alternate type of search by selecting the Actions link at the top of the results list and choosing Run search as terms and connectors or Run search as Natural Language.

Additionally. when you run a Natural Language search, either standard (only the top) results or expanded (all) results appear in the results list, according to what specification is selected in Settings Page. If standard results are specified, then you can select Expanded results from the Actions list at the top of the results list to view expanded (all) results. Or, if expanded results are specified, you can select Fewer results to view only the standard (top) results.