Making Good Choices: Canadian Electronic Research Sources

Making Good Choices explores the comparative strengths and weaknesses of Quicklaw Full Service and LawSource. These pages also consider what CanLII can offer as an alternative to the commercial services, and describe other resources.

Evaluation criteria

The criteria for selecting an appropriate electronic research tool are similar to those for evaluating print sources:

  • comprehensiveness
  • accuracy
  • currency
  • quality of content
  • ease of use
  • cost.

However, this task is more complex in the electronic research world because of the large range of research functions the major sources offer; …

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Search interface

LawSource, Quicklaw and CanLII all permit users to find documents by name or citation, as well as to conduct keyword searches in the full text.

LawSource, Quicklaw and CanLII assume that most users will want to search the entire case collection. However, users are given the option to refine by …

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Case law

LawSource and Quicklaw

The following table compares the features of LawSource and Quicklaw relevant to searching Canadian case law.

Feature LawSource Quicklaw Full text searching options Keyword searching by template, Boolean or natural language, with field searching by template. Keyword searching by Boolean query, with field searching by template and… Read More


Effective legislative research requires the reader to study and consider a legislative provision in the context of the whole Act, rather than looking at an isolated section. Regulations should be considered as well as the statute. The legislation you review must be current. Effective judicial consideration research often requires that …

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Texts and encyclopedias


LawSource contains the full text of the Canadian Encyclopedic Digest, both the Western and Ontario editions.

  • The CED can be accessed through the LawSource table of contents or through a keyword search. The notional cost of a search through all or part of the CED is $21.50.
  • References
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Case digests


LawSource includes the Canadian Abridgment case digests.

  • The digests can be accessed through a hierarchical table of contents using the Abridgment classification scheme, or by searching the digests using keywords.
  • You can select certain classifications from the table of contents and restrict your search to digests within those
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Words and phrases


LawSource has added a words and phrases feature, based on Carswell’s Words and Phrases publication. It is searched from the Words and Phrases template on the Home page. This collection contains terms, with examples of how they have been judicially defined. Users can search for words as defined terms, …

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Case citators

KeyCite and QuickCite

QuickCite is the case citator on Quicklaw, and KeyCite is the case citator on LawSource. KeyCite tends to add citing cases sooner than QuickCite, but the treatment code is not assigned when the citing case is first added to KeyCite.

The following table sets out the main …

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Statute citators

The most efficient use of the electronic statute citators described below is in conjunction with a publication such as Statutes of British Columbia Judicially Considered, which provides a summary of the most important citing cases. Another good way to augment your statute citator research is to consult an annotated …

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LawSource includes the Index to Canadian Legal Literature, as well as a collection of full-text journal articles and the case comments from the Carswell topical reporters.

  • This material has been integrated with KeyCite, so that a case citator report lists full-text articles and CED entries on LawSource
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Current awareness


LawSource subscribers are entitled, at no extra cost, to receive digests of recent cases in various areas of law. Subscribers can link from the digest to the full text, but will incur the notional cost of $4.00 for linking to a case. LawSource also provides free access to recent …

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Conclusions and references

LawSource and Quicklaw

With respect to LawSource and Quicklaw, it is impossible to conclude that one is vastly superior to the other, or to advise users to subscribe to one rather than the other. Each service has strengths and weaknesses, and these should be taken into account in deciding which …

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