Among the New Words/Nexis

Kathleen Miller millerk at NYTIMES.COM
Wed May 19 13:20:34 UTC 1999

My only contact with Lexis is via an academic link-up I have here (the
Academic Universe mentioned earlier) and I agree with Dr. Glowka - it is

While reding this discussion I have heard no mention of the Dow Jones
Database. I find it has a friendlier interface and more sources - all of
which you can search at one time. The only problem for us is that it has no
date filter. It is possible to search by date range but you have to manally
change it until you find what you are looking for. I also find that it
doesn't do the same thing as lexis when there are too many hits - not that
I want to look through 99,999+ sources but at least I know they're there.

At 09:15 AM 5/19/99 -0500, you wrote:
>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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Kathleen E. Miller
Research Assistant to William Safire
The New York Times

"A man should never be ashamed to own he has been wrong, which is but
saying, in other words, that he is wiser to-day than he was yesterday."
Alexander Pope.

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