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Researching Secondary Law Sources

 

Thomson Reuters Westlaw

Thomson Reuters Westlaw is an international database containing primary and secondary sources in full text. While the focus is on US material, it also covers Canadian and UK material. Like Lexis.com, you should search it if you want your research to be comprehensive.


Selecting 'databases' in Thomson Reuters Westlaw

Before you begin your search you need to select the database/s you want to search in. To search US journals first select Secondary Sources (for other jurisdictions, you will need to select International Materials first)

 

After selecting Secondary Sources, then choose the type of secondary source eg. Law Reviews & Journals, from the NARROW PUBLICATIONS BY filters on the left of the screen. Your database selection can be very broad - eg. all Law Reviews & Journals, or very specific - an individual journal title.

 

Select the Advanced search option, next to the search box


Searching Thomson Reuters Westlaw

You can search in a couple of different ways. Either using the search boxes to build your query:

or, by selecting where in the document you want your terms to appear:


Thomson Reuters Westlaw results

Your results, with your search terms highlighted, appear in the right hand pane, in relevance order (this can be changed by selecting from the drop down menu).

Select from your results, and then use the display and delivery options to the far right of the screen to either print, download or email them.


Thomson Reuters Westlaw search tips

Thomson Reuters Westlaw searches across the full text of the article, so if you want your terms to be close together, you will get better results if you use the /s (in same sentence) or /p (in same paragraph) connector, rather than ‘and’.


Refine your search results

If your search terms bring back a large number of results, you can use the Search within results option.

You can select the author field to search for a specific name - just enter the author's surname.

You can also limit to:

  • a particular date, 
  • publication type,
  • publication name.