Getting Help Finding
Finding Secondary Sources
Find It Button Evaluating Websites
Citing Your Work
your friendly reference/instructional librarian, and I'm here to
You can email me at
Trust me, you WANT to be friends
with a librarian. Not only are we extraordinarily cool,
but we're here to help you with your research, and we actually
enjoy doing it, as sick and twisted as that sounds! Visit
my website for more information about me:
When I'm not
teaching classes or rushing off to meetings, you can find me in
my office in Blackwell Library 129 or at the research services
desk. My hours on the desk are Mondays 8am-12pm, Wednesdays
8am-10am, Thursdays 10am-12pm, and Fridays
8am-10am. Stop by and say hi! Now, I know my desk
shifts are pretty early, so if those times are good for you, you can also drop me an email to
set up an appointment with me. We can meet in my office and go
over your research.
I like to think of this
assignment in terms of primary sources and secondary sources.
This is a good opportunity for me to use those terms because
there is a good chance you will be asked to find primary sources
at some point in time (we get those sorts of reference questions
at the desk all the time.)
Primary sources are
documents that are "eyewitness" accounts of an event or time
period and include things like letters, memoirs, original
research data, newspapers published in that time period, and in
the case of your assignment: the actual court documents or text
of the legislation.
Secondary sources are
documents that report on or analyze primary sources such as
literary criticism, an article about events that happened in the
past, textbooks, etc. For your assignment, secondary
sources will be books and articles that talk about the court
decisions or legislation.
Find out everything you
ever wanted to know about primary and secondary sources
Finding court cases and legislation:
There are a ton of resources for this, but here is what I
recommend: take a look at some of the famous
cases/legislation on the following websites and choose a few
that interest you:
For state cases/legislation,
you can easily google "[state name] and historic legislation" or
"[state name] and historic court cases."
THEN...if you need to see
the full text of the case or legislation and it's not included
in those websites, try the following:
- for State/Federal Court Cases, follow these steps:
At the top, where it says
"General, News, Legal, Business, People," click Legal
From the left hand side,
choose "Federal and State Cases"
Enter the plaintiff and
defendant's names in the Case Name search box, or you can
search by keyword, date, citation number, etc.
THOMAS to find full text of
federal legislation back to 1973. You can also search the
US Code. If you
need help finding what you need, let me know!
You can use these databases to find books
and articles that were written about the court case or
legislation you have chosen to write about.
To find books, use the library's
When you look at articles, it may be
helpful to think in terms of scholarly versus popular
publications. Check out this handy dandy
chart from Duke Libraries
for more information. You will probably want a mix of
scholarly and popular sources for your assignment.
To find articles, use one of these
Academic Search Complete - a
multidisciplinary database containing both scholarly and
popular sources, many of which have full-text available.
ASP is a good place to start your research. Use the
FindIt button to locate articles that are not available
Lexis-Nexis Academic - a great source
for full-text world news and legal information.
National Newspapers - a source of
U.S. news from major papers including The New York Times
and The Washington Post
JSTOR Arts &
Sciences - a huge, wonderful database
of scholarly communication from a wide variety of
disciplines, including Political Science. All of these
sources are full-text, but the newest documents are 3-5
- Congressional Quarterly's magazine on
government, commerce and politics.
America: History and Life
- U.S. and
Canadian historical sources. Use the FindIt button to
locate articles that are not available full-text.
Social Sciences Abstracts - covers
all the social sciences. It's an EBSCO database, same
as Academic Search Complete, so the interface will look
familiar. There are some full-text articles; for
others, use the FindIt button.
And how about Polling Data?
Or you can try Googling "poll data" AND
WHAT DOES THAT CUTE LITTLE FIND IT
BUTTON DO, ANYWAY?
It's a bit like magic,
really. The Find It button does three things:
Looks in all of our
databases to see if the document you want is available
full-text in another of our databases. If so, it links you
Links you to the library
catalog when we have the item you want in print or
Links you to ILLiad
(interlibrary loan) so you can borrow the item from another
library if we don't have access electronically or in print.
The Find It button is YOUR
Always make sure
that internet resources are appropriate for your project.
If you have any doubts, check out the criteria listed on
If the link above doesn't make things crystal clear, and you're
still questioning the appropriateness of a website, please check
with your professor or a librarian.
not cool. Of
course you want to make sure you give proper credit to any
source that you use to write your papers, whether you directly
quote or paraphrase.
This guide helps students understand what plagiarism is and
how to avoid it:
For citation help, check out the SU's
Citation Style Guide.
The librarian liaison
to Political Science is Krista