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 can easily filter or refine the search …

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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 Default is federated plain language search. Switches to Boolean search if proximity command or truncation is used in query. Template search is accessed through… 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.

  • CED entries are included in the results for federated searches.The CED can also be accessed directly from the Commentary section of the LawSource home page, either to search or to browse the
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Case digests


LawSource includes the Canadian Abridgment case digests.

  • When viewing a case you can see the Abridgment classifications for the case and then link to all the digests under that classification to find similar cases. Links to related Abridgment classifications are also included in CED entries.
  • The digests can
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Words and phrases


LawSource includes a words and phrases feature, based on Carswell’s Words and Phrases publication. It is searched from the Words & Phrases link near the bottom of the Home page. This collection contains terms, with examples of how they have been judicially defined.

The results list states the number …

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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, newsletters, and case comments from Carswell topical reporters.

  • The Articles and Newsletters collection is automatically searched during a federated search. It includes the newsletters, the full-text journals, and the
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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 of the case. LawSource also provides free access to recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions.

LawSource enables users to subscribe …

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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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