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Summer RA Workshop - 2016  

Last Updated: May 11, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Legal research is hard, but not impossible.  Finding the answers to complex legal questions often requires the review and analysis of a variety of legal sources including traditional resources such as case law, statutes, regulations, and the constitutuion.  Often times, secondary sources such as law review articles and government/agency websites can act as a gateway to a treasure trove of valuable information. 

Successful researchers routinely rely on a combination of resources, some creative thinking, and the determination to persevere through times of frustration.  You each possess the analytical skills and critical thinking abilities to become successful researchers - otherwise you wouldn't have been hired as Research Assistants!.  Use this tab to help you get your research started off on the right foot and to keep you on the right track throughout the summer.  And always remember, when in doubt, ask a librarian


Tips for Successful Research

It's okay to Google 

  • Google is a GREAT place to start your reserch.  However, it is a terrible place to finish it.  ("Well, I googled it, so it must be true" is never a good answer...)
  • Wikipedia is your friend.  You can "learn" so much for simple, short Wikipedia entries which often contain links to additional information. (There is no need to reinvent the wheel.)
  • Trust but verify.

Keep notes as you go. 

  • General notes can include things such as what databases you used, what filters or search parameters you applied, and what keywords you actually used.
  • Specific notes can include which articles you have actually reviewed, which ones keep showing up, and which ones are highly cited.
  • Notes about prolific authors are also helpful – who is quoted often in a certain area?  Use Web of Science to see what else they have written, etc.

Start general and narrow your results to a manageable list

  • Every database has some sort of “filtering” functionality.  It may be in the search parameters or in the results lists – find it and use it.
  • Learning to read the results list is the first battle to on-line research.  Take some time early on to really figure out what you are looking at.

Research is an art not a science. 

  • It takes some time to play around with things and find the “sweet spot” for your topic.  This is where taking notes can save you a lot of time.
  • When you start to get frustrated, take a step away.  Try to re-focus.  Or ask for help.  We are here to help you find what you need in a reasonable amount of time.  Let us help you.

When in doubt, ask a librarian.


Finding Law Reviews and Journal Articles

LegalTrac goes beyond Westlaw and Lexis and provides indexing for more than 1,400 titles including major law reviews, legal newspapers, bar association journals, and international legal journals.  LegalTrac also contains law-related articles from over 1,000 additional business and general interest titles.  LegalTrac can be found in our Electronic Resources, Databases: A-Z on the library’s webpage.  Keep in mind, if LegalTrac provides only an abstract of the article you are interested in, the article is likely available in .pdf format in HeinOnline.

When in doubt, ask a librarian.


Finding Articles in Secondary Literature

As Emory law students, you have access to 99% of all the databases included in any of Emory University libraries’ subscriptions.  The complete list of databases can be easily found on almost any Emory University webpage.  Check out the top right corner of almost any Emory University page and you will see three options: Schools, Libraries, and Resources.  “Databases” can be found under the “Libraries” link.

  • Academic Search Complete is a comprehensive scholarly, multi-disciplinary full-text database, with more than 5,300 full-text periodicals, including 4,400 peer-reviewed journals.  In addition to full text, this database offers indexing and abstracts for more than 9,300 journals and a total of 10,900 publications including monographs, reports, conference proceedings, etc.  The database is updated daily and features PDF content going back as far as 1865, with the majority of full-text titles in native (searchable) PDF format.  Searchable cited references are provided for nearly 1,000 journals.

  • JSTOR, the Journal Storage Project, provides access to digitized versions to complete runs of key scholarly journals in the arts, the humanities, literature, the sciences, the social sciences, and selected scholarly journals in related disciplines such as business, ecology, botany, music, and statistics.  JSTOR represents the building blocks of a truly interdisciplinary scholarly journal archive.

  • Web of Science is a collection of multidisciplinary citation databases, including Science Citation Index, Social Sciences Citation Index, the Arts & Humanities Citation Index, Current Chemical Reactions, and Index Chemicus.  Because the information stored about each article includes the article's cited reference list (i.e., its bibliography), you can also search for articles that cite a known author or work.

When in doubt, ask a librarian.


Requesting a One-On-One Research Consultation

A team of five dual-degreed librarians (have obtained both a JD and an MLIS) are standing by to meet with you one-on-one to discuss your specific research goals and objectives and will help you create an effective and efficient legal research strategy.  Simply complete a request for a Student Research Consultation on the library’s website under Research at MacMillan, “Student Research.”  A librarian will contact you to make arrangements for an individual meeting.

When in doubt, ask a librarian.

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