Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Seek Professional Help (with Online Tutorials)

You read all the assigned chapters of Legal Research in a Nutshell during LARW. You collected thousands of reward points at Lexis and Westlaw trainings. You even attended the library’s annual “Research Refresher” classes to help prepare for your summer job. So why can this research stuff still be so hard sometimes?

The landscape of legal information is constantly changing—materials may be available online in some sources but not others; or they may not be online at all. Different online sources offer different search technologies, from the simple keyword approach of Google Scholar to the algebraic field and connector searching in Lexis and Westlaw. As a result, successful search strategies in one database may not work in another…assuming that you are able to access a particular database at all!

Fortunately, the Goodson Law Library has prepared a list of recommended Research Tutorials ( to help you resolve common research issues, including: selecting an appropriate resource to begin research; searching for journal articles in databases; retrieving the full text of journal articles; locating a variety of U.S. federal primary legal materials; and conducting international law research.

Several of the video tutorials on the list were created this spring by Jane Bahnson, a student at the UNC School of Information and Library Science who worked at the Goodson Law Library as a Reference Services intern. Others were created by other law school and university libraries, but are recommended by Goodson Law Library staff. The page also contains quick links to LexisNexis tutorials, Westlaw quizzes, and CALI lessons.

More tutorials will be added in the future, and the Goodson Law Library welcomes your input on potential topics. If you have an idea for a tutorial topic, you can email Lauren Collins, Head of Reference Services (, or leave an anonymous idea in the Library Suggestion Box.