Nearly 75% of all legal research begins with Google. I recently began researching a piece on military enlistment contracts. Using Google I entered:
enlistment contract marines
The fifth hit in my result set is embedded below. It’s a form at the website controlled by the Defense Technical Information Center. Look at the file structure of the URL. See the folder captioned eforms? I want to pop that folder open, generate a master list, then search my result set by keyword.
Here’s my query:
site:dtic.mil and inurl:eforms
My query restricts my search to a specific folder within a specific domain. I receive 946 hits on separate forms contained in the folder that interests me.
The foregoing example provides a mass customized approach to searching any website. Using this technique, every web site looks the same. Even if I could replicate this result using the framework provided by the DTIC — which I can’t — it would too take long and involve too many clicks.
Now that I have my result set, I can refine my search. I can enter, for example:
site:dtic.mil and inurl:eforms and intitle:enlistment
The result of this search will reveal any forms containing enlistment in the title field of the page. Title searches are great, because presumably the page is all about the term that most interests you.
I receive one hit on a highly relevant form. To cover the landscape, I broaden my search:
site:dtic.mil and inurl:eforms and enlistment
This query returns any forms containing at least one reference to the term enlistment anywhere in the form. The upshot is that from my original list of 946 forms, 65 contain at least one reference to the term enlistment.
This is the list of forms I’m going to mine.