Law Using library resources for research The Library Services page • All library information is linked to the Library Services page and updated regularly. • Read the A-Z Index. There are links to: • The catalogue. • Subject Guides. • Exam papers database. • Tutorials that provide help in searching electronic databases. • Information on how to cite your references and avoid plagiarism. • Accessing other libraries. • Contact details for all library staff. Law Subject Guide There are subject guides for most subjects. They give you a good idea of the range of resources available for that subject. The Law Subject Guide has: • A list of relevant journals. • A list of relevant electronic databases. • Contact details of subject librarians. • An online Index of Legal Abbreviations of law journals and law reports series. • See the ‘Research Skills for Law’ page. Library catalogue • The catalogue lists books held in library stock, both paper and electronic, but not all books published. • The number of electronic books available will increase rapidly from now on. • Use ‘keyword’ or ‘advanced keyword’ searches to find items on a topic. • Use keyword search features, a.k.a. Boolean operators, to join your keywords. • Use the ‘help’ function on the catalogue to find out more. • Work through the catalogue tutorial to learn how to search the catalogue effectively. Library catalogue • Reservations may be placed and inter-library loans may be ordered via the catalogue. As distance learners you won’t use these services unless you are based in London or visit the library regularly. • The catalogue lists journal titles and law report series but not articles inside journals or cases in law reports. Search the electronic databases such as Westlaw and Lexis-Nexis for those. • All electronic resources: books, journals and databases may be accessed and searched via the catalogue. • Inform the library immediately if you have any problems accessing electronic resources. Many problems are easily solved via email. • You need to register in the library to use any of the resources. Electronic Databases • Legal databases include: Westlaw; Lexis-Nexis Butterworths Academic Library; HeinOnline; JustCite; Lloyds List; Lloyds Law Reports. • Electronic databases searched via the library page are delivered via the web but are reliable academic resources subscribed to by the university. • You have to log in using your networked computer username and password. • As distance learners you have access to vast electronic information resources which may be accessed from any computer with web access, anywhere. Choosing a relevant database When choosing a relevant database think about: • The subject(s) covered by the database: Depending on your topic of research, you might want to consult databases other than legal ones, such as Psycinfo, a psychology database. • The years covered by a database: Some databases are archives of journals from volume 1. Some are updated more often than others. Some databases don’t have the latest journal articles. • The journal titles or law reports it references: There is overlap in information but also important differences between databases. • Is it a full-text database or mostly an abstracting and indexing database? Keywords • The limited number of words you use in your search are known as keywords. • Select the keywords you use in your search carefully in order to find a manageable amount of relevant information • Be aware of different spellings, i.e. globalization or globalisation; organization or organisation • Different terms used in other countries, i.e. primary school or elementary school. Selecting keywords • Essay question: ‘Membership of the European Community and the effects of the Human Rights Act 1998 have had little impact on the approaches to statutory interpretation practiced by the judiciary.’ • Possible keywords or phrases: human rights act, european community, ec, judiciary, judges, statutory interpretation, impact, effect. • Some of the keywords are obvious and some are more abstract, such as impact and effect, and you need to think of similar words to describe the concept. • Join your keywords with Boolean operators such as and, or, not Boolean Searching – tips for searching • The rules for searching differ slightly on different databases. • Always check the search tips or help facility on a particular database. • Databases have their own online tutorials. Take the time to work through them! • If you understand the logic and know some of the common search features, you will easily be able to switch between searching different databases. Search tips continued… • Phrase searching: human rights act or “human rights act” • Some databases, such as LNB, automatically treat consecutive keywords as a phrase • Others, such as Westlaw, require quotation marks on either side of a phrase. • Sometimes searching on a phrase rather than individual keywords might retrieve more relevant information. Search tips continued… • AND: devolution and wales (sometimes + or &) This will narrow down your search. • OR: ec or european community (sometimes ,) This widens your search. • NOT: devolution not scotland (sometimes and not) This excludes aspects of a topic. Search tips continued… • Truncation: A symbol (*) replaces letters, such as judg*. That will find words with different endings: judge, judged or judges but not judiciary. On some databases ($) or (!) is used. • Wildcards: A symbol, ?, is used to replace letters. e.g. globali?ation will find different spellings, globalisation and globalization; organi?ation for organisation or organization. There are many more search techniques such as these so check the database you are using. Limiting your search • Many databases have basic or easy search options and advanced search options for when you want to be more specific. • There are options to limit your search to find fewer, more relevant results, so you can search for: • journal articles or cases • information published within specific date ranges • Articles within specific journal titles • Full-text articles only from journals subscribed to by the library. • If the results from your search do not look relevant or specific enough, edit your search and adjust your keywords and/ or Boolean connectors (and, or, not) Organise and update your research Try to be methodical and consistent in your research: • Email, save or print results of you search and keep them in files, paper or electronic. • Save searches on a database and run them again at regular intervals. • Set up alerts. You will be sent email updates whenever new items on your research topic are added to the database. Full-Text electronic information • Some databases contain full-text information: electronic newspaper database: Nexis UK • Electronic journals: Modern Law Review, Lloyds List • Electronic journal databases: Ebsco, Ingenta, Swetswise provide full-text journal articles for journals subscribed to by the library. • You can search these databases for articles on a topic across all journal titles or within a specific journal. Full-Text electronic information • Legislation: For example - Lawtel has all the Acts of Parliament from 1984 onwards and Statutory Instruments enabled by the Acts. Lexis Nexis Butterworths has Acts of Parliament from 1266 and Statutory Instruments from 1956. Westlaw has Acts from 1267 and Statutory Instruments from 1948. • Law reports: Heinonline has The English Reports. Westlaw has The Law Reports from 1865. LNB has the Church of England Measures from 1920. • Encyclopaedias and books: Halsbury’s Laws of England on Lexis-Nexis Butterworths. • Electronic information is constantly changing. Databases are always being improved to make them easier to use. New information is always being added to databses. Abstract and Indexing Databases • These are databases that index and abstract journal articles and books providing references only, sometimes with a summary of the article. Most databases are actually a combination of full-text and references only, such as Westlaw and Lexis-Nexis. • These databases are huge. Items not available full-text on one database might be available through another database so always check the catalogue. • Items not in stock may be ordered through inter-library loans but they have to be fetched from the library. You also have access to other academic libraries through the Sconul Access Scheme. Abstracting and Indexing databases • Search the Legal Journals Index on Westlaw for references to journal articles. Some will be full-text, others not. It is the most comprehensive database of journal articles so you will have a good idea of what has been published on a topic. • Search Westlaw and Lexis-Nexis for cases. Some will be full- text, others not, so remember to check to see if we have the paper source. • There is overlap between databases but each database also has material that is unique, so you need to check the coverage. • Try doing the same search across databases to see how the coverage differs. Using other libraries • You may join the Sconul Access scheme and use other participating university libraries: www.access.sconul.ac.uk • Search across all the M25 Consortium catalogues of university libraries in and around London, though you won’t have access to all institutions. http://www.m25lib.ac.uk/ • Search COPAC, the top research institutions in the UK, including the British Library. • http://www.copac.ac.uk/ • Search the British Library catalogue. http://catalogue.bl.uk Using the web for academic research • Academic institutions, government departments and non-profit organisations make digitised information freely available to the public via the web. • However, anyone can create a web site and there aren’t the same quality controls that you find in print publishing. • Therefore information found on the web must be critically assessed in slightly different ways to print information. The following online tutorials will show you ways of using the web for academic research: • Internet Detective: http://www.vts.intute.ac.uk/detective/ • Internet for Lawyers: http://www.vts.intute.ac.uk/he/tutorial/lawyers/ • Intute Virtual Training Suite: http://www.vts.intute.ac.uk Citing electronic sources • Web sites used in your work must be cited in your bibliography. Check with academic staff on the style required. Enquiries Subject Librarian at City Campus Subject Librarian at North Campus Chris Smart Megan Redmond firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Tel: 020 7320 1186 Tel: 020 7607 5060 Always start your research as soon as possible • It takes time to find material, so allocate time to do the research as well as reading, thinking, writing and consulting your lecturer or supervisor. • You need to demonstrate in your work that you have researched your topic in depth and consulted a range of sources such as books, academic journals, law reports, newspapers and web sites. • You will build up research skills that you will be able can apply in many different contexts. • As you search for information you will begin to understand your chosen topic more and you might want to change it slightly. Start your research as soon as possible • The sooner you use the electronic databases the more confident you will be in searching and finding relevant information and in using different media; print or electronic. • You will learn what source to choose for specific information. • As you search you will discover the keywords you need to use – current jargon, legal terms in use. • Ask for help at an early stage – your lecturer or supervisor, study skills workshops provided by the Learning Development Unit, subject librarians for Law. Good luck and enjoy your studies!
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