Legal Law

Concept Search Vs Keyword Search

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Litigation processes are increasingly complex and the use of advanced technology has become a necessity. Lawyers and judges are turning to e-discovery to assist them in resolving legal proceedings as quickly as possible. An integral part of the litigation process is the search. Searching for relevant information can be confusing and unrewarding when the wrong approach is implemented, rendering the entire process pointless and redundant.

Search by Keyword

There are two basic types of searching that can be done in-house or provided as eDiscovery services. They are keyword search and concept search, although more and more new and innovative searches are also making their entrances. The traditional electronic data discovery search system is related to keyword searching, where an attorney searches for specific terms or phrases that are critically related to the case.

Keyword search is effective when exact search operations are performed without misspellings or abbreviated versions. The search engine does not offer satisfactory results in the case of abbreviations, synonyms, misspelled terms, etc. Keyword search does not have the flexibility to search a broad spectrum of terms that might have a significant relationship to the case.

Cases are never simple. People who engage in illegal activities often use obscure expressions and phrases to communicate their actions and results, allowing them to easily go unnoticed. The main drawback of keyword searching is that it can produce excessive results, which may or may not be relevant to the case, or inappropriate results, in which relevant documents may be eliminated. In any case, it can paralyze legal proceedings.


In concept search, the tools return a list of documents that not only contain exact terms, but also those that are conceptually related to the topic, providing broader search capability. Concept search relies on sophisticated algorithms to assess the relevance of a set of documents to a concept. Concept search helps identify and group similar documents, speeding up the review process.

For organizations, a truly effective search is particularly useful as it helps investigators unravel many vague and unanswered questions. Employees of a company who use keywords to hide their true intentions can be exposed with the concept search methodology.

The best of both worlds

Although the concept search is the preferred option for some, as a stand-alone procedure it cannot give accurate results. searches can also find more of the necessary documents, as it also searches for related terms. This can lead to useless results and lose its purpose.

The objective is to select data, and the use of advanced analytical methodologies is the key to success. Using keyword search in conjunction with concept search can produce the best results and create the most favorable conditions for litigation and disclosure. The keyword search feature can be implemented to find results for specific questions like who, what, when, how, why, etc. You can sift through the data and remove irrelevant documents to produce a filtered set for review purposes.

Highly specific concept searching can help investigators review cases comprehensively. The secret is to use the methodology that best suits the case and that best helps to meet the objectives.

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