Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Research Hints I
1. If you don’t know the subject matter of a problem, start researching in a secondary source, such as an encyclopedia or a treatise. This will give you background on your problem.
2. Always take notes when doing research so that you remember what you looked at and where you found something. Don’t forget to write down the citations. Consider keeping a research journal. You can do this using you laptop.
3. Before you start to research, make sure you have a research strategy. This will make your search more effective, and it will save you time. View legal research as problem solving.
4. Before you start to research, decide the relevant jurisdiction or jurisdictions you need law from.
5. Before you start to research consider what sources of law you need–cases, statutes, administrative regulations, etc.
6. Before you start to research, consider what is the best media to use for your particular problem–books, Lexis, internet, etc. You need to be proficient in all types of media. Certain media work better with different problems, and usually you will be working with different types of media on the same problem. Certain tasks are done more efficiently in the books. Also, methods for doing legal research are rapidly changing.
7. Before you start to research, make sure you know what law is binding for your problem.
8. Frame your issue or issues before you start to research, this will help you narrow your research. Develop a research vocabulary for your problem that you can use in indexes and for online keyword searches.
9. Legal research is not a lineal process; the best researchers go back and forth among the steps of research.
10. Remember, you are researching a particular problem based on a set of facts; you are not just researching a broad legal topic. Know your facts thoroughly before you start to research.