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Tips

 

Early On

Map out a tentative research plan. Doing so will give you direction and will likely spark more deliberate thinking about where to search.

žžUse a research guide, those available on the Chastek Library website and elsewhere online.  Subject-based research guides have already pulled together key material on their topics. Consulting them can efficiently point you to the best sources. Oftentimes there will not be a research guide on the specific topic of your paper but there may be a research guide on the larger topic within which your paper falls. Use Cornell's Legal Research Guide Tool to find research guides by topic and by state from around the Web. Guides can also be found through general internet searches.

Ask for assistance early and often at the Reference Desk.. Librarians can suggest a strategy if you don't know where to start. Advise you on hard-to-locate and hard-to-cite sources, confirm that you have exhausted all possible Library and publicly available resources.

žDon’t get caught in Westlaw and Lexis rut. While these are both deep and well-functioning legal databases, it goes without saying that many many topics will need material from and citations to materials not available on those databases including monographs, data, inter-disciplinary articles, historical sources, and so on. Also, simply stepping out of the Westlaw and Lexis box may spark crucial new ideas and directions.

 

 

As You Progress

Keep notes of where you’ve looked & search strings you used. Do this during preemption checks and during main research stage. This will help avoid having to re-do work. Further, when you are starting a project and don't completely understand all the complexities it is easy to not recognize the relevance of something you found. If you don't have notes on where you found it, you may have difficulty retracing your steps.

Try the Internet Archive to try to locate things that are no longer online.

žžUpdate your research.

When are you finished your research? It is often said that when your searches keep yielding the same results you are finished. Another way to think about it: Are you getting so many repeat results that you believe that the chance that there is significant material out there that you haven't found is pretty small? Also, time permitting you might also continue to search during the writing stage. As your understanding of a topic develops so will your ability to find relevant material.

 

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