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Finding & Researching Your Paper Topic

Keeping Track of Sources

As your research progresses, be sure to keep track of all the sources you have consulted in a research log.

Items you might want to record in a research log include:

  • Author, title, edition, and publication year
  • Library call number and location (avoid looking it up again in the library catalog)
  • Web site address and date accessed
  • Words and phrases in the table of contents, index, or text that deal with your research topic
  • Citations to constitutional provisions, statutory and/or regulatory sections, cases, and other primary sources (when you notice the same sources cited repeatedly you know you are on the right track)
  • Other secondary sources that you want to consult
  • Database name or identifier from an online service
  • Notes about information found in each source
  • Date when you searched each source

Why Record Information?

Recording this information serves several purposes:

  • Helps you avoid duplication and saves time
  • Provides a list of words and phrases that are useful in searching other materials
  • Facilitates construction of Bluebook or ALWD citations
  • Speeds your return to a specific resource as your research progresses
  • Allows someone who is familiar with the topic to confirm that you searched the relevant sources OR that you missed critical sources

Online Services

Sample Research Log Template

Research Log (Sample Template)

Facts:

Preliminary Analysis from Step 1 of Legal Research Strategy:

Jurisdiction:

Key terms:

Legal concepts:

Question:

Source

Title & author / Case name / Statute title / Website /

Database name

Date

of case or law or article / Date website was accessed

Location

Call # /Web site address

Citation  to case or statute or regulation or article

Best Search Terms

Results and Next Steps

 

 

 

 

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