Skip to main content

Research Assistant Guide (Law)

This guide is meant to orient Law Research Assistants to the library resources and services available to support their work.

Receiving an Assignment

  1. Understand the scope of the project

    • How extensive does the professor want your research to be? Does he or she want a few articles and books providing an overview on a particular topic, or are he or she looking for something more in-depth?

    • Is the research limited to certain jurisdiction(s)?

    • Are there any important authors or works in the professor's field of interest that he or she can recommend?

  2. Understand your professor's expectations for the project.

    • When is the deadline? If you are given multiple assignments, which one is the highest-priority?

    • How much time are you expected to spend on the assignment?

    • What is the best way to communicate with the Professor?  

    • What format does the Professor want the work product to be in?

  3. Develop your research plan. 

    • Identify keywords that you can use for searching databases and other legal resources. Consider synonyms and antonyms for your terms.

    • Make sure you understand the relevant jurisdiction.

    • Identify useful secondary sources. Ask your Professor if there is a treatise, loose-leaf service, journal, or other source you should use to start your research.

    • Ask about important terms of art and leading cases.

    • Determine what types of materials you should be consulting (cases, statutes, international treaties, journal articles, etc.). The Legal Research Checklist can help you consider all the different types of information that might be helpful for legal research.

    • Determine what databases or resources you will use to find these materials. See the Guide to Legal Resources Online @ Lederman Law Library for an overview of the databases and other electronic resources available to Queen's law students. 

  4. Document your research process.

    • The databases/resources searched.

    • The search terms used.

    • An evaluation of the effectiveness of the search.

    • Why a selected source may be important.

Adapted from Seton Hall Law's Guide to Research Assistant Resources and Temple University Law Library's Research Assistant Guide.