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Journal/law review articles, legal encyclopedias, legal guides
For basic information, especially about topics of major historical or popular interest, use the general online reference sources in the boxes below (Credo Reference and the Gale Virtual Reference Library).
For more specialized legal information, try these sources:
Major legal encyclopedia for US law. Use "Search within results" in Nexis Uni to limit by keyword.
Legal Journals/Law Review Articles:
Academic Search Complete This link opens in a new window
this basic all-subject database includes many legal journals and full-text of articles are available for a large number of the titles it covers
Google Scholar This link opens in a new window
to find legal journal articles, don't select the "Legal Documents" radio button
HeinOnline This link opens in a new window
Focuses on law journals, case law, and government documents. Some United States collections include the Congressional Record, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, and parts of the Serial Set. Other notable collections offered are the US state collections, Canon law materials, international treaties and agreements, English legal materials, and United Nations legal materials.
Nexis Uni This link opens in a new window
Includes local, regional, national, and international newspapers, as well as non-English language news; business information about US and international companies; federal, state and international legal materials including case law, media transcripts, and more.
A useful set of reference books, in the Library on the first floor:
- U.S. Legal System. KF387.U15 2004. Alphabetical encyclopedia of terms and concepts.
More about secondary sources
In the world of legal resources, laws, regulations, opinions, and cases are considered primary sources of law.
Secondary sources are legal research articles, legal encyclopedias, and other fruits of scholarship that analyze the primary literature. Some links to this kind of information are in the box on the right.
Often these secondary sources can be good starting points for doing research related to legal issues, especially for non-law students. Time-saving benefits may include:
- explanations of legal concepts
- historical context for legal concepts
- suggestions of terminology to be used in further searching
- citations to primary sources pertaining to the topic
- compilations of information from several different primary sources on a single topic
However, be aware of the following aspects of a secondary source that might affect its suitability for a particular research need:
- intended audience: for the general public or for lawyers? will affect the level of technicality, denseness of jargon, etc.
- jurisdiction covered: federal, state, local?
- currency: up-to-date or of historical interest?