Step 4.1 Use the 'Full compass' Method to Brainstorm Keywords

The more words you can think of, the better your chances of finding the answers to your problem.159 To think of as many words as possible, you must use your imagination.160 Many guides suggest the 'cartwheel' method for expanding your imagination.161

American law professor William Statsky developed the 'cartwheel' method.162 The method uses a diagram that prompts you for different kinds of words. The method resembles a word association game.163 We have modified the cartwheel method by changing some of the labels and by changing the cartwheel analogy to a compass analogy, as shown below.

Compass

To use the compass, imagine the centre of the compass holds 1 of the main fact keywords or legal concept keywords you identified in Step 2, or a small set of these words.

For example, you might list 'Doctor' as your first main keyword from the 'parties–occupation' category in Step 2. Imagine 'Doctor' lies in the centre of the compass. Then list as many words and phrases of the following types, in the order presented below. Repeat the process for each of your other main keywords.

The table below applies the 'compass method' to the main keyword 'Doctor'.

brainstorm BRAINSTORM

Brainstorm words that are …

  • Broader (examples: 'expert', 'professional', 'practitioner')
  • Narrower (examples: 'psychiatrist', 'neurologist', 'dermatologist')
  • Synonyms (examples: 'physician', 'medical practitioner', 'doctor of medicine')
  • Antonyms (examples: 'patient', 'injured', 'sick person')
  • Closely related words (examples: 'nurse', 'hospital', 'surgery')
  • Loosely related words (examples: 'training', 'university', 'qualifications')
  • Procedural words (examples: 'application', 'registration', 'deregistration')
  • Agencies (examples: 'Medical Practitioners Board', 'Health Provider Registry', 'Medical Disciplinary Tribunal')

Table 46: Brainstorm keywords (example)

 

159 Suzanne McKie, Legal Research: How to Find and Understand the Law (1993) 42.

160 Stephen Elias and Susan Levinkind, Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law (13th ed, 2005) 4/13.

161 For example, Terry Hutchinson, Researching and Writing in Law (2002) 76; Terry Hutchinson, Researching and Writing in Law (2nd ed, 2006) 78; Stephen Elias and Susan Levinkind, Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law (13th ed, 2005) 4/12; Suzanne McKie, Legal Research: How to Find and Understand the Law (1993) 42 (referring to the cartwheel method as 'probably the most complete'). See also Thomas Michael McDonnell, 'Joining Hands and Smarts: Teaching Manual Legal Research Through Collaborative Learning Groups' (1990) 40Journal of Legal Education 363, 368, fn 24 ('All serious researchers should read William P Statsky's description of his expanded word-association model, which he calls the cartwheel').

162 William P Statsky, Domestic Relations (1978), reproduced in Stephen Elias and Susan Levinkind, Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law (13th ed, 2005) 4/12; William P Statsky, Legal Research and Writing: Some Starting Points (3rd ed, 1986) 98–101 cited in Thomas Michael McDonnell, 'Joining Hands and Smarts: Teaching Manual Legal Research Through Collaborative Learning Groups' (1990) 40Journal of Legal Education 363, 368, fn 24.

163 Stephen Elias and Susan Levinkind, Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law (13th ed, 2005) 4/13.

 

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