No note, comment, senior research project, or seminar paper would be complete without using the following resources to fill out your research. This list includes resources that allow full-text keyword searching and resources that use subject terms organized to help you find relevant sources even if the author used a different term than you expected.
Law Library Essentials
- Reference Librarians
Our reference librarians bring extensive training and practice experience in law, political science, and information science.. Find us at three reference points for general reference; government and legislative information; and foreign, international and comparative law.
Why you need us: Academic information resources are always changing. Your reference librarian knows which tools are available and how to use them.
- Conduct Research page
The law library's portal to its information resources and guides.
Why you need it: This site will lead you to the best information available for your area of interest
The Northwestern University libraries catalog.
Why you need it: This catalog will lead you to books and journals owned by Northwestern libraries. It will also provide links to electronic versions of some sources.
An international catalog. Search for materials in libraries worldwide.
Why you need it: We regularly borrow books or request copies of articles from libraries throughout the country. As soon as you know your topic, use WorldCat to find out if a crucial book from another library will need to be borrowed. Borrow WorldCat books by interlibrary loan.
Power Search Tips for NUcat and WorldCat:
- Use subject headings. NUcat and WorldCat use common subject headings connected by hypertext links: once you find one work on your subject, use the subject links to locate other works.
- Search both narrowly for your topic and more broadly for the overall subject. Unlike a search engine, NUcat and WorldCat are looking for terms that describe a whole book. Information about the psychology of jurors can be found in books specific to that subject but also more generally in books about juries and in books about psychology in the justice system in general.
- Use NUcat limits. Occasionally NUcat provides many results unrelated to your interest. You can limit by date range, by specific library, or even a part of the law library collection.
- Browse the stacks for other books on your subject and related subjects in the vicinity of the books you find on NUcat.
- Index to Legal Periodicals and Books
Each of these indexes provides citations with abstracts from more than 800 legal publications. Use the FindIt@NU button to access the full text (if available), or locate full text articles on Lexis or Westlaw. For indexes outside law, see the electronic resources page.
Why you need them: Index editors apply consistent subject headings to articles, ensuring that you can locate many articles even when the title is obscure or the author uses different terminology. Indexes (including these two) also generally include many more journals than can be found in full-text sources like the Lexis and Westlaw databases below.
Full Text Current Sources
- Westlaw (TP-ALL or JLR)
- Lexis (U.S. Law Reviews and Journals, Combined)
Why you need them: Since an index is designed to help you find articles centrally about your topic, full-text searches on Lexis and Westlaw will help you locate additional articles that discuss your topic in part. Be sure to consider synonyms for your key terms so that you do not miss articles that use slightly different phrasing.
Full Text Archives
- HeinOnline archive database of law journals in full-text PDF. Full-text searchable from near current back to the 19th Century on journal search page.
- JSTOR archive database of journals in all disciplines (including a number of legal journals) in full-text PDF.
Why you need them: Lexis and Westlaw journal databases go back to the mid-1980s, but HeinOnline and JSTOR archive scholarship back to the mid-1800s. Find out what scholars said when your topic first developed.
For Recent Developments
Scholarly Community Resources
- SSRN, The Social Science Research Network
- bepress, The Berkeley Electronic Press
These online publication sources allow scholars in various fields to post articles prior to formal publication, as a means to get their ideas before their colleagues and receive feedback. The Legal Scholarship Network portion of SSRN provides an advance look at the research of legal scholars. Bepress features multiple working papers series, and a particular portion is devoted to law, including the Northwestern Law Working Paper Series
Why you need them: Find out what scholars are thinking about as soon as they have a draft to distribute.