Academic Help: Federal Statutes
About the Federal Statutes, Codes & Regulations Search Form
The Federal Statutes, Codes & Regulations search form is located in the US Legal section of LexisNexis Academic. This search form will allow you to accomplish tasks such as:
- Searching or browsing the Federal Code
- Searching or browsing the US Consitution
- Searching through the Federal Register
This form has a quick search default. If all you want to do is search for a few terms in a specific source, then the rest of this Help section does not apply to you.
If you use any of the other features, then the form switches to using Boolean logic and you do need to read the rest of this Help section.
Boolean logic means you construct your search using individual terms joined by connectors such as "And" and "Or." If you are looking for statutes about motor vehicles and simply search on "motor vehicles," LexisNexis will assume that you want to find documents in which those two words occur in that order and right next to each other. However, often times legal language will differ from one state to another. In one state, you may have "seat belts" in another, you may have "safety harness". To find such documents you can enter the terms on separate lines and pick the "OR" or "within 5 words of" option from the drop down box for Connectors (see below). For more about connectors, see the article on Boolean Searching.
Note: Although quote marks are used in the examples, they are ignored in Boolean searches. If you want to search a phrase, simply enter it in a single text box and LexisNexis will assume you want the exact words in the exact order.
The second and third input rows of in the Search For section start with a drop down box that lets you choose connectors when you have entered terms on more than one row. The connectors are:
- Within 5 words of
- In Same Sentence as
- In Same Paragraph as
For an explanation of how these and the other available connectors work, and to learn about search techniques, see the article on Boolean Searching.
Sometimes called "keywords," the terms you enter in the text box will be matched against terms that occur in documents when your search is run. There are a few things you should know about entering terms on this form:
- Implied adjacency -- if you enter two or more words in the same box (with no connector), LexisNexis will assume you want to find documents in which those words occur together and in order. Entering "hot dog" will only find documents that mention hot dogs. Entering "hot AND dog" will find any document that has both these words, for example a story about a dog on a hot day.
- Automatic pluralization -- LexisNexis automatically searches plural forms of most nouns. You do not need to use wildcard characters to search for "dog" and "dogs," simply enter "dog" and LexisNexis will find both variations.
The default "Everywhere" option in the drop down boxes at right will run a full-text search for the term(s) you have entered. In some cases, you will get a much better result by restricting the search using one of the choices in the drop down box. The restriction choices are:
- by Headings
- by Citation
- Articles that contain your input term at least 5 times
Use the "Edit in Power Search" link at the bottom of the form to copy your search into the Power Search form, where you will have more more flexibility and features, including the ability to add index terms, search in specific document sections, and use more complicated Boolean logic.
One of the most efficient ways to narrow your results set is by specifying the date. If you're researching a current event, try narrowing the date to the last 6 months. If you're researching a past event, use the "Is Between..." option to set the dates yourself. Choosing a time period to search through will change your results drastically. You will be much more likely to find relevant results.
On the Federal Statutes, Codes & Regulations search form, simply click the check boxes of those sources you'd like to search.
Your other option is to use the "Edit in Power Search" link to navigate to the Power Search form. From there, you can add Boolean operators to your search.
Also, use the "Browse Sources" or "Find Sources" links to navigate to the Source Directory. From there, you can choose multiple specific sources to search within. For example, if you wanted to search US Code and Alabama Code at the same time, simply click the "Find Sources" link, select the sources, and go from there. For more instructions on the Source Directory, click here.
Popular Names of Laws
Popular names of laws are not used in the US Code. To look up a law by its popular name, search in Public Laws. There you will find the Public Law version of the law as well as citations to the sections of the US Code that embody the law.