Browsing and exploring vs. searching
Often in litigation, investigations and research you can feel there is an important underlying relationship but you can't put your finger on it. Since you don't know what you are looking for you can't do a regular database search. In such situations you'll know what you're looking for when you see it and so you need to be able to browse and explore information and relationships.
Browsing lets you quickly review information you might not have thought to examine or would have missed in search. Exploring, on the other hand, is for when you need to follow relationships and your thoughts, while keeping intermediate results available from which to explore alternate paths.
However, the synergy and effortless freedom to fluidly move between browsing, exploring and searching, needs to be experienced to fully appreciate. This section explains MasterFile's "Explore" tool and then takes you through a small exploration/browsing session to let you experience this.
One of MasterFile's key strengths is that although database searching is possible, information is always visible and readily available for review or perusal by simply browsing.
Some of MasterFile's browsing tools include, for example:
- Views automatically sort and categorize documents, extracts and facts in critical ways so you can instantly find documents by type, author or recipient, or find facts by relevance or impact assessment, without any work at all.
Extracts keep key evidence visible and accessible so you can see what's important in dozens of documents at glance or locate key passages instantly within source documents to review in context. Extracts exist live in
- all views, next to their source document,
- in an "embedded view" within their source document's profile (a live extract list), and
- in specific extract-only views sorted by document type, relevant issues, topics, players, etc.
- The Summary Browser lets you quickly scan players, documents, extracts, facts, chronology events, research, etc. -- anything in your case from anywhere in MasterFile. Column title arrows switch the views.
- 'Everything: by Issue/Topic' which is a set of live views that presents documents, extracts and facts linked to an issue, topic or player so you see all related case material. Issue/topic linking has many advantages over searching:
- Searching for critical material is not always reliable as searches often return dozens or hundreds of hits, all of which must be reviewed again for relevance.
- Depending on search terms, or searching with even slightly different terms could leave many items missing from the results.
- It preserves knowledge. If you've uncovered half a dozen or more important pieces of evidence on a topic, and have several dozen topics or issues under investigation, without linking to related issues, critical evidence although present in the database, gets forgotten and for all practical purposes, "lost".
When you need to explore or dig through relationships, MasterFile offers many tools to help you explore various relationships.
The Calendar: Whenever you are examining a chronology event, you can view the event in context to other events in various calendar formats. Simply click on [L+ Chronologies > Calendar Format] or from an open fact profile click on the "Go to Calendar" button at the top of the profile form. An example of treatment events on August 12 in chronological order is below.
The Explore Button: Explained below.
View switching: Switching views while keeping your selection is very useful when exploring, as it shows you your selection in context of others in the same category. For example, if you select an expert report in the 'by Document type' view, switching to the 'by Doc type, From' view will show you all other case material from the same author.