8 legal research questions for students

8 legal research questions for students

December, 14, 2010 • Posted by 0 Comments

In his article ‘Online Legal Research Workshops’, Frederick Jonassen notes that professors and librarians who teach legal research have often observed that students learn how to research by actively researching rather than by listening to a lecture. He proposes a five step legal research workshop and presents these eight questions for use with a practical legal search exercise.

1. Identify the database you decide to use in order to find the law that may be pertinent to the questions posed in your assignment. Why did you choose this database?

2. Develop an initial term and connector search or a natural language question search for identifying the materials relevant to the question posed above. Provide an explanation of why you chose the particular terms and connectors or natural language question you used.

3. How many hits did you get? Examine your results. Do you need to revise your terms and connectors? Why or why not?

4. If you need to revise your terms and connectors or question for another search, do so, and continue such revisions and searches until you have identified the materials that you can use to answer the questions above. Answer the following:

a. What was your rationale in making changes in your terms and connectors or questions?

b. Provide the terms and connectors or question that finally produced the materials you found useful in answering the [question].

Why do you think these particular terms and connectors or question worked?

5. Are there any other types of data bases and sources you might look into to find answers to your questions? If there are, select such a database or source.

a. Identify the data base or source. Why are you using it?

b. What terms and connectors or question search are you using?

c. What do you find in it?

6. Do you want to try any other research technique to find more information? If so, what? Why? If you have time, go ahead and try it and describe what you are able to find.

7. If you haven’t done so already, start looking for the answers to the questions in the materials you have found. Do you think you should check for any subsequent case history for any of these cases? If so, what is your rationale for doing so?

8. Provide the answers to the questions in the assignment. The format of your answer does not matter, you may use a paragraph or number your answers. In the course of your answers, provide at least three cases that you have found most helpful in answering the questions.

For the full article, see St. Thomas Law Review Spring 2010, Vol. 22 Issue 3, p470-503