Archive of Research Tips
This page is a repository of research tips that have appeared on the Law Dawg Blawg, research tips, library announcements, news and links of interest for the SIU School of Law community from the law librarians of Southern Illinois University.
If you don't find what you need here, try our collection of Research and How-to Guides. SIU School of Law faculty and students are welcome to recommend topics for other research tips or guides.
- Read the Stuff You Find—research doesn't end when you find something.
- Is It Still Good Law?—before you cite to a legal authority, you must be sure that it is still applicable and current. Here's how.
- Start Small—Whether you are doing your research in print, on the web, or with a subscription electronic service, you should start with the smallest or most specific resource.
- Guide to the Federal Courts—good introduction to federal district, appellate, and bankruptcy courts.
- Ben's Guide to U.S. Government—a good review of how the U.S. Government makes law, plus an introduction on how to find the statutes and regulations enacted by Congress and federal agencies.
- Read the Instructions—Look for Help, Tips, Instructions for Using a publication, Tables of Abbreviations, information about coverage and organization, or small [i] links, to get the most out of any resource.
LexisNexis and Westlaw Searches
Special LexisNexis and Westlaw Features
Other Specific Research Tools and Resources
- Use an Index—Indexes can save you time and frustration when you are looking for a good article.
- Oyez Project—a great resource for Supreme Court watchers.
- Guide to Foreign and International Legal Citation—published by the N.Y.U. Journal of International Law and Politics.
- Finding Definitions in Cases—Using Words and Phrases in print and on Westlaw.
- Open CRS Network: Congressional Research Reports for the People—a project of the Center for Democracy & Technology, in cooperation with several organizations and collectors of Congressional Research Service reports, Open CRS provides access to CRS reports already in the public domain.
- Citations for Frequently Cited Treaties—The University of Minnesota's topically-arranged list of frequently cited treaties and other international agreements includes, for each treaty, the full citation, available sources of hard copy and links to the EISIL database when possible.
- Secret Resource in the Law Library: HeinOnline—provides online access to law journals, the Federal Register, U.S. Attorney General Opinions, Treaties and Agreements, and U.S. Supreme Court cases online, usually back to first volume of publication. Exact page reproductions, including charts, graphs, photos, and other images that online systems frequently leave out, make it an excellent resource for law journal cite checks.
- GovTrack.us—a non-governmental site for tracking legislation and Congressional activity.
- IICLE Publications and SmartBooks—Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE) materials online (access restricted by license).
- HowStuffWorks—At the How Stuff Works website, you can "Learn How [almost] Everything Works!"
- Using LexisNexis Congressional—federal legislative history database (access restricted by license).
- Congressional Research Service Reports— in-depth reports and other documents at the request of and for the use of members of Congress.
- What RSS Feeds Can Do For You—a series of research tips for lawyers and other legal researchers on using RSS feeds to monitor government and legal information on the web more efficiently.
- part 1—introduction
- part 2—legal news sites and blogs
- part 3—federal government information, in general
- part 4—state government information
- part 5—resources for specialized practice areas
- Subscribing to RSS Feeds—instructions on subscribing to RSS feeds in general, and the Law Dawg Blawg in particular.
- What Is a Site or RSS Feed?—an overview of feeds and news readers
- Using Bloglines to Manage Your Blogs and News Feeds—Bloglines is a good online feed reader for beginners.
Internet, Web, and Blog Research
- New Tools for Finding Blawgs—upgraded Blawg.com and new BlawgSearch.
- FirstGov Search Upgrade—search features on the government web portal.
- Google Tips—tips on using Google better and on special Google features.
- LLRX.com—includes a monthly web journal, archives dating back to 1996, a database of links to court rules, forms and dockets, research guides, and topical resource centers.
- Searching Is Just the Beginning—You must also read and analyze what you found, and evaluate whether it is current, accurate, and reliable.
- Guide to Free and Fee Based Appellate Court Briefs Online—The LLRX Guide will help researchers quickly find appellate court briefs.
- Legal Information Institute (LII)—Includes the CRS Annotated Constitution, U.S. Code, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), U.S. Supreme Court opinions, a searchable index to U.S. Courts of Appeals decisions, federal court rules, the Uniform Commercial Code, a uniform laws locator, and state materials by jurisdiction and topic.
- Use More Than One Search Engine—Includes a review of Clusty.
- Finding Blawgs on Any Legal Topic—Blogs are frequently updated websites; blawgs are law-related blogs.
- The Virtual Chase—Includes a research newsletter, articles on strategies and resources, research guides and tips, a tutorial on Evaluating the Quality of Information on the Internet, and much more.
- Know Your Search Engine—Some online tools to help you learn how to use all the features of your favorite search engine to run the best possible search and to find other search engines to expand your search results.
- Gift Cards—links to resources on consumer rights regarding gift cards and gift certificates.
- The Right to Make Decisions About Medical Care—Illinois and general legal resources on living wills, powers of attorney for medical care, health care surrogates, advance directives, and related documents.
- Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act
- Free Credit Reports—A 2003 amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.
- Opting Out of Junk Mail—Credit reporting agencies must allow you to opt out of firm (prescreened or preapproved) offers of credit and insurance.
- National Consumer Protection Week 2005—resources on "Identity Theft: When Fact Becomes Fiction."
Law Practice Management
Other Specific Research Topics