For the best research results, integrate print and online tools. Online tools are not substitutes for print tools.
- Plan your research (use the guidelines below)
- Consider research tools available to you
- Use the online library catalog, InfoHawk, to identify the best resources
- Take into consideration cost - balancing time and money with results to be achieved
Use print resources
- To gain a basic understanding of an area of law
- To research issues where search terms are too common, ambiguous, or have too many synonyms
- To research statutes or regulations because of their hierarchical structure, because it is easier to browse from section to section and because typeface may provide clues to understanding the text
- To research procedural issues which often rely on common words
- To explore complex concepts and legal theories or analogous situations
- To research older materials and other resources not available online
Online research is particularly useful when
- You have unique search terms or a unique fact pattern
- You have an emerging area of law
- You need information not published in print or not yet published in print
- Your research cannot be easily performed in print (e.g., multistate search, decisions by a particular judge, lawsuits involving a particular product)
Rely on Internet sources with caution
- Is the source reliable?
- Is it up to date?
- Check text for errors. Even reliable sources make mistakes.
- Will the information be there later for documentation purposes?
For research assistance, please contact a Reference Librarian.
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