Library Research Step by Step
For Legal Researchers
Before you start searching
• The licenses for most of our research tools
require that users are on UCSD IP addresses
– Are...
Choose your topic and keywords.
• Develop your research question, hypothesis,
or thesis statement
– What is the history of...
Choose the kinds of resources you
want to find and the best tools to find
them.
• Each tool helps you find a
specific, lim...
Books
Books typically cover a single topic in depth.
Look in an online library catalog like
(UC San Diego’s library catalo...
Legal Materials
“The Law” is rules developed by
• Legislative bodies
• Administrative agencies
• Courts
Primary Sources
• Legislation
– Bills (proposed laws)
– Statutes (passed laws)
– US Code, state codes (laws arranged by su...
Law Reviews
The scholarly journals of the legal world
• Use these to
– Get background info
– Understand the legal discours...
Legal Databases
The Library has three major databases for finding law
reviews and primary source material.
• Westlaw Next
...
Other Primary Sources
Primary sources are materials that
document the event when it happened—
or as close to when it happe...
Construct a basic search strategy.
• In most databases, you can combine terms
with and (both terms must appear in the
hit)...
Run searches using the tools you
choose.
Experiment with keywords and
combinations of keywords, e.g.
I might try
• marri* ...
Try different tools.
• Check the help screens or guides to each
database for specifics on combining your
terms and whether...
Get the citation information. You
need this for your bibliography.
You list the works you cite so that readers
interested ...
Get the actual item.
• If the full text isn’t available in your search
results. Look for the button.
• Link to full text i...
Evaluate the source
• Does it answer the
question?
• What are the
author’s credentials?
– And what sources do
they cite?
•...
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Library Research for Legal Researchers at UCSD

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Library Research for Legal Researchers at UCSD

  1. 1. Library Research Step by Step For Legal Researchers
  2. 2. Before you start searching • The licenses for most of our research tools require that users are on UCSD IP addresses – Are you on the wireless network at UCSD? • Make sure you’re using the UCSD-PROTECTED network. – Are you off-campus? • Make sure you’re using the VPN or Proxy
  3. 3. Choose your topic and keywords. • Develop your research question, hypothesis, or thesis statement – What is the history of interracial marriage in the United States? • Break that statement into key concepts, – Interracial, marriage • Think of other ways to phrase those concepts. Use synonyms. Consider more specific words (to narrow your focus) or more general terms (to expand your search), e.g. – Marriage: marriage, married, cohabitation – Interracial: interracial, miscegenation, intermarriage, race, intermixing, segregation…
  4. 4. Choose the kinds of resources you want to find and the best tools to find them. • Each tool helps you find a specific, limited kind and amount of information. • Knowing which tools might help you find what you're looking for will save you a lot of time.
  5. 5. Books Books typically cover a single topic in depth. Look in an online library catalog like (UC San Diego’s library catalog) • Tip: Many of the Library’s books are now ebooks. Use to find the link. • Tip: Not enough at UC San Diego, or the book you want checked out? – Try to request books from other San Diego libraries – Try to request books from other University of California libraries
  6. 6. Legal Materials “The Law” is rules developed by • Legislative bodies • Administrative agencies • Courts
  7. 7. Primary Sources • Legislation – Bills (proposed laws) – Statutes (passed laws) – US Code, state codes (laws arranged by subject) • Court opinions • Regulations – Federal Register – Code of Federal Regulations
  8. 8. Law Reviews The scholarly journals of the legal world • Use these to – Get background info – Understand the legal discourse – Save yourself time • Avoid reinventing the wheel compiling primary sources • Discover other secondary sources on your topic
  9. 9. Legal Databases The Library has three major databases for finding law reviews and primary source material. • Westlaw Next – Best bet for appellate level cases, law reviews, and other secondary sources. Has proprietary commentary. • LexisNexis Academic – Best bet for appellate level cases, law reviews, and some other secondary sources. Has proprietary commentary. • HeinOnline – Best bet for primary sources and law reviews
  10. 10. Other Primary Sources Primary sources are materials that document the event when it happened— or as close to when it happened as possible. Items in the Library are cataloged in and other resources are available in specialized databases. Examples include: • News: particularly good for accounts of sensational cases • Government publications and official documents • First person accounts: diaries, letters, oral histories, blogs…
  11. 11. Construct a basic search strategy. • In most databases, you can combine terms with and (both terms must appear in the hit)and or (one term must appear in the hit— for synonyms or evenly weighted terms) – race and marriage; interracial or miscegenation • In many databases, you can use a symbol such as * or ! to take the place of letters to get hits with multiple endings of a word – marri* • Example search: marri* and (interracial or miscegenation or race or intermixing)
  12. 12. Run searches using the tools you choose. Experiment with keywords and combinations of keywords, e.g. I might try • marri* and (interracial or miscegenation or race or intermixing) • Interracial marriage
  13. 13. Try different tools. • Check the help screens or guides to each database for specifics on combining your terms and whether your results are ranked by date or relevance. • When you find good hits, look at the subject headings/descriptors. Try running new searches using those terms.
  14. 14. Get the citation information. You need this for your bibliography. You list the works you cite so that readers interested in your research can find and read the resources you used to draw your conclusions. • Email records to yourself as a backup. • Some databases can export the citation in a specific format (e.g. APA, Chicago, MLA) • Use RefWorks (free to UCSD students) to manage, store, and format your citations.
  15. 15. Get the actual item. • If the full text isn’t available in your search results. Look for the button. • Link to full text if available. • No full text? – Try for the print • No UCSD access at all? – You can usually request the item from another library using the link. – For books, try or
  16. 16. Evaluate the source • Does it answer the question? • What are the author’s credentials? – And what sources do they cite? • Is the source current enough for the kind of research you're doing?

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