Having access to Lexis, Westlaw, and Hein Online, satisfies the day to day information needs for most legal researchers. However there can be a steep learning curve when you need to venture into new disciplines. Try these ready reference sources when you are not sure where to begin your research.
Reference Universe is a great way to gather information on any topic because it is a discovery tool designed to locate materials in the UW Madison campus reference collections. It searches the indexes and article titles from nearly 20,000 electronic and print reference works (encyclopedias, handbooks, manuals, etc.), then takes you straight to the electronic article or provides page numbers and links to the MadCat record for print holdings. Let's say you are looking for information regarding censorship and the "Production Code". Using this phrase as your search query delivers 47 cites to relevant encyclopedia articles and reference books available on the UW Madison campus.
Credo Reference is another database which uses trusted content from over 70 of the world's leading academic publishers to answer research questions. Simply type in your terms and the database links you to resources. This database also includes helpful search features such as a crossword puzzle solver and a quotation finder. Search "don't ask, don't tell" for the origins of this often heard phrase.
Finally, the E-Resource Gateway organizes all the UW Madison campus library databases for easy access to a specific resource from the alphabetical listing. If you do not know what database(s) covers your topic, the gateway organizes all these electronic holdings into 18 broad subject areas for searching. For example, one of these categories is "Reference" and it includes subcategory listings to online dictionaries, encyclopedias, directories and other useful resources. The Gateway also provides a temporary place to store articles / records which can then be emailed or saved to a citation manager such as RefWorks.
Submitted by Cheryl O'Connor on April 7, 2010
This article appears in the categories: Law Library/IT