Among the New Words/Nexis

Wayne Glowka wglowka at MAIL.GCSU.EDU
Wed May 19 14:15:33 UTC 1999

Fred and I have had some private exchanges about Lexis-Nexis in the last
month or so, and his wish to see the database used by ATNW in a thorough
way is not new to me.  (Indeed, I expected that Fred would have ante-dated
Barry's ante-datings by the time I got into the office this morning.)

Since last fall, my students and I have begun using Lexis-Nexis on an ad
hoc basis.  We work against deadlines, so time is a genuine problem for us
in the use of Lexis.

We find Lexis-Nexis frustrating on many accounts.  For one thing, we cannot
always find terms we have on Lexis and get zero hits.  Contributors send us
clippings from sources not always covered by Lexis.  The time to find out
that something is not on Lexis is then wasted time.

The most frustrating problems have to do with the organzation of Lexis in
the form that we have it.  We cannot do a global search.  Consequently, we
have to search in all available categories (major newspapers, regional
newspapers [broken down by regions], magazines, etc.).  The time involved
in waiting for the search results in each category can be substantial on
slow Web days.  The other problem is even more time-consuming.  If you find
a term with say 500 hits, the only way to get to the earliest citation is
download all of the hits in groups of 25 at a time, starting with the most
recent.  The other day I just plain got frustrated and gave up before I
ever got close to the earliest.  I was more worried anyway about what the
term meant than what the earliest citation was.

But we are about to start work on a box of sports terms for spring 2000.
Our plan is to expend some patience with Lexis and see what it can do.
Readers will just have to be patient with us in the meantime.

By the way, after some impressive demonstrations of JSTOR on ADS-L, I asked
our librarian about our chances of getting that database on our system.  He
said that there had been some discussion of doing so but that the price was
prohibitive.  The start-up fee was $30,000.  The annual maintenance fee was

Wayne Glowka

>I have deleted Barry's message about antedating computer terms by
>searching Usenet, but I suspect that many of these would show up even
>earlier on Nexis.  It is great that Barry is searching Usenet for "Among
>the New Words," but it would be even greater if someone would search all
>the ATNW terms on Nexis.  Nexis is clearly the fundamental tool for
>researching neologisms, and lack of Nexis searching results in somewhat
>impoverished, even inaccurate information in ANTW.
>I'm not volunteering to do the Nexis searching myself at this point
>(because of lack of time), although I would probably be the best person
>for this task.
>Fred R. Shapiro                             Coeditor (with Jane Garry)
>Associate Librarian for Public Services     TRIAL AND ERROR: AN OXFORD
>  and Lecturer in Legal Research            ANTHOLOGY OF LEGAL STORIES
>Yale Law School                             Oxford University Press, 1998
>e-mail: fred.shapiro at               ISBN 0-19-509547-2

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