Google Proximity Connector

Thanks to Carole A. Levitt, co-author of Google for Lawyers and Internet Legal Research on a Budget, I now know the secret Google proximity connector.

The elusive Google proximity connector is AROUND(n).

From Levitt's explanation:
Many paid legal research products such as LexisNexis and Westlaw offer the ability to search for keywords within a certain number of words from one another (a number that you define). For example, some pay databases allow you to search w/ (within any number of words that you indicate, such as w/2), /s (in the same sentence), and /p (in the same paragraph). Google does offer an analogous, but nearly unknown, proximity connector - AROUND(n).

The Google proximity connector AROUND(n) must be placed in upper case as illustrated in this explanation. By replacing the “n” with a number, you determine how many words you want your keywords to be from each other. For example, when we searched for carole AROUND(2) levitt, we retrieved 281,000 results where carole was within 2 words of levitt. The results consisted of results like this:

Carole A. Levitt
Carole Ann Levitt
Carole Levitt
Nancy Jo Levitt
Carol Suzanne Levitt (notice the name carol was retrieved)
Alain Levitt, Carol Lim
Joseph Gordon-Levitt inexplicably performing Carole King's classic “You Make ...

To conduct an even more targeted search, try enclosing your proximity search within quotation marks. Our search for “carole AROUND(2) levitt” retrieved 22,600 results. This search only retrieved results where the exact name carole preceded the exact name levitt (with up to two words in between carole and levitt). It disregarded any documents that included various spellings of carole and levitt while the earlier search, without quotation marks, retrieved results with spelling variations for carole and levitt.

This is a great tool to have in your Google-searching tool chest. It will keep searches more precise, which is helpful for scholarly research when researching Google Scholar.


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