Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The speed and accuracy of WestlawNext versus Westlaw Classic

In another study published by the Legal Reference Services Quarterly, the authors tested the speed and accuracy of WestlawNext against Westlaw Classic. Although others have found that WestlawNext costs more, these researchers concluded that it produced faster and more accurate results.

The article by law librarians Melanie Knapp and Rob Willey (both at George Mason) is available at 32 Legal Ref. Serv. Q 126  (2013).  From the abstract:

"In 2010, Thomson Reuters released WestlawNext powered by WestSearch, a novel and proprietary algorithm. WestlawNext represents a new approach to legal research platform design. This article empirically examines the differences in search results using Westlaw Classic and WestlawNext by testing law students and librarians in both systems. Results demonstrate that researchers complete everyday searches faster and more accurately using WestlawNext. However, WestSearch's unique features and Thomson Reuters' failure to explain the function behind the WestlawNext main search bar and the WestSearch algorithm has limited researchers' ability to understand and effectively use WestlawNext. This lack of understanding has significant implications for instruction."


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