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Legal Research Manual

This edition of Legal Research Manual builds on many previous editions. While the manual is designed principally for use with the first year legal research classes, upper year law students will also find it a useful reference.

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What is the Index to Canadian Legal Literature?

The Index to Canadian Legal Literature (ICLL) is the only comprehensive index to Canadian journal articles, books, conference proceedings, collections of essays, and book reviews in the field of law and law-related topics.

The ICLL contains bibliographic records for journal articles and other secondary legal sources. It does not contain the full-text of journal articles (although it does contain links to articles within the WestlawNext database). This means that once you have located the title of an article that interests you, you may still have to retrieve the full article from a different system or database (such as Omni).  

For further guidance, see ICLL Search Tips.

Where is the ICLL Located?

To get to the ICLL, first log into Westlaw Edge Canada using either your personal password (law students only) or the campus-wide WestlawNext Canada using your Queen's NetID and password. A link to the ICLL is located near the bottom of the landing page under the heading “Finding Tools”, as shown below.

Screenshot of WestlawNext landing page.

ICLL Search Tips

The articles in ICLL are classified with subject headings. Subject headings are controlled vocabulary terms used to describe the topic or topics covered in an article. An effective way to identify relevant articles is to first locate one relevant article, and then use the ICLL subject heading to locate more articles like it.

For example, let’s say you want to find articles about medical malpractice and doctors in Ontario. You could begin by entering some search terms that describe this topic in the ICLL search template, as shown below.

Screenshot of ICLL search template.

Screenshot of ICLL search results.

Next, identify a relevant article from the list of search results (e.g. "The Investigation of Complaints and the Disciplining of Doctors in Ontario"). Then, click the relevant subject heading (PHYSICIANS - Malpractice) to retrieve all the articles that have been classified with that subject heading, as shown below. 

Screenshot of ICLL record.

Screenshot of ICLL search results.

Even though the original search terms (doctors malpractice Ontario) are similar to the subject heading (PHYSICIANS - Malpractice), the subject heading retrieved many more relevant articles. That’s because the subject heading retrieved all articles pertaining to physicians' malpractice, regardless of whether the authors used the word ‘doctor’ or ‘physician’. That is the power of subject headings!