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Research Guide for Faculty of Law Research Assistants

This guide orients Faculty of Law research assistants to library resources and services that can support their work.

William R. Lederman Law Library

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Law Library Team
William R. Lederman Law Library
128 Union Street Kingston, Ontario
Canada, K7L 2P1

Receiving an Assignment

  1. Understand the scope of the project

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

    • Is the research limited to a certain jurisdiction(s), court, or date range?

    • Are there any key authors, cases, or works that should be consulted?

  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, phrases, and terms of art that you can use for searching databases and other legal resources. Consider synonyms and alternative terms. 

    • 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. 

    • 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 research tools you will use to find these materials. See the Key Online Legal Resources guide 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.