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Research Tips for Faculty Research Assistants

This guide supplements training for research assistants for law faculty.

Overview

Scholarly articles are the most common resource you will be looking for when doing research for law faculty. The most common types of scholarly articles you will be finding are articles published in law reviews and journals. However, don't forget to think about interdisciplinary journals and journals that are not law reviews and journals but might touch on law-related topics. 

Make sure to read the "More information..." under the various resources to get a little bit of background information on each.

This page was compiled by Annalee Hickman. Feel free to contact her with questions or to ask for further assistance.

Where to Find Scholarly Articles

HeinOnline is the premier database for finding official publication versions of articles published in law reviews and journals. While you can find the text of these articles on Westlaw and Lexis, by finding them on HeinOnline, you get PDFs of the official versions, with the official paginations, with the footnotes on the proper pages, etc. Most faculty prefer to use these versions for reading and citing purposes. Even if you find a relevant article on Westlaw or Lexis, I recommend that you download it from HeinOnline to use in your research.

Another factor making HeinOnline the premier database for finding articles from law reviews and journals is that it has all the volumes of these law reviews and journals from the beginning. The same is not true for Westlaw and Lexis, which only have volumes from law reviews and journals from about the 1990s and onward. Sometimes your faculty member may want to cite older law review articles. When that is the case, only HeinOnline has those articles.

HeinOnline is integrated with Zotero (a research management software) in a way that Westlaw and Lexis are not, so HeinOnline is ideal for importing articles into Zotero. For more information on what Zotero is and how to use it, visit the Zotero page on this research guide.

Westlaw (and Lexis Advance) each contain the full text of many journal articles. However, you should be aware that the availability of full-text articles varies from publication to publication. Usually, the collections on Westlaw and Lexis only go back to the early 1990s. For older full-text articles, use the HeinOnline database. Additionally, the PDFs of text on Westlaw and Lexis are not the official PDFs and do not show easily the pagination and footnotes properly like HeinOnline does.

Lexis Advance (and Westlaw) each contain the full text of many journal articles. However, you should be aware that the availability of full-text articles varies from publication to publication. Usually, the collections on Westlaw and Lexis only go back to the early 1990s. For older full-text articles, use the HeinOnline database. Additionally, the PDFs of text on Westlaw and Lexis are not the official PDFs and do not show easily the pagination and footnotes properly like HeinOnline does.

Google Scholar combines the familiarity of Google with access to scholarly materials. Google Scholar allows you to look up articles in every field of study. Though you may not be able to access the article directly from Google Scholar, it’s a great way to track down an article, which you can then access through either the BYU Law Library, the BYU Lee Library journals and databases, or through interlibrary loan. If you have logged into the BYU Lee Library's website from your browser, you may get notifications to the right of articles on Google Scholar saying "GET IT! @ BYU" and then it can save you a step of having to find it for yourself on the BYU Lee Library's website.

Google Scholar also allows you to click on "Cited by [___]" for each article. From there, you can see citing references and perhaps find more articles that are relevant to your research.

Google Scholar even shows articles that are on HeinOnline. Sometimes I prefer to search for law reviews and journals on Google Scholar and then click on the Google Scholar link to HeinOnline because I prefer the user experience on Google Scholar.

A limitation of Google Scholar is that you cannot filter by subject area or type of material (e.g. journal article, magazine, book, etc.).  

The BYU Lee Library has access to a lot of journals! Their access won't show up if you search on the BYU Law Library's website, so you've got to head over to the BYU Lee Library's website. You can browse the journals they have from the home page, but I prefer to search for the title of the journal in the search bar. Note: You would not want to search for the title of the article in the BYU Lee Library's search bar, only the title of the journal. Then, when you find the journal, you can see the years that the BYU Lee Library has access to. Check to make sure the article you want is from that year. 

SSRN lists many of the most recently published and in-process articles. It is very important to check SSRN when you are dealing with faculty research currently in progress. There may be articles that have already been written by other law professors addressing the same or similar topics to that which you are researching. Such articles may have been accepted for publication in a law review or journal but may not have been officially published yet on Westlaw, Lexis, or HeinOnline. You can find them here.

Check the Bluebook page on this research guide for how to cite articles you have found on SSRN that are forthcoming publications.

Interlibrary loan is a wonderful service that can get you access to most materials if you cannot access them through the BYU Law Library or the BYU Lee Library. It is free to use! Click on the hyperlink to read more about how to request an article through interlibrary loan.

Generally, you may use the interlibrary loan service when you find a specific article title or abstract through Google scholar or another database, but you were not able to get access to the full text. Or (when you are looking through a book, article, or other material), you may come across a cited article that you want to look at that is not available through our subscriptions or in our catalog.

As a practical matter, articles can usually be retrieved in just a few days because they are sent electronically to you. Make sure to request it under your name if you want it to come to your email. Request it under your faculty member's name if you want it to go to their email.

Video Tutorial

Video tutorials are forthcoming. 

Until then, if you need help, contact Annalee Hickman.

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