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CRIM 597: Special Topics

This Guide is created for Barry Ruback's course CRIM 597: special topics

Legal Resources

US National Resources

  • Corpus Juris Secondum "A contemporary statement of American law as derived from reported cases and legislation." Organized into more than 400 topics, arranged alphabetically it is a national legal encyclopedia that covers state and federal legal topics from A to Z. General rules of law are summarized in blackletter law headings and expanded upon in the text. The book also provides the limitations and exceptions to the rules where appropriate.
  • American Juris Prudence 2d  This comprehensive legal encyclopedia contains textual statements of law alphabetically arranged in more than 400 topics.
  • American Law Reports organize, summarize, and analyze pertinent federal and state case law on particular legal issues. Issues include those involving statutory and common law, practice and procedure, and rules and regulations. Each article reviews the cases discussing the relevant point of law. The articles also contain research references and practice pointers.

US State Resources

  • Text & Treatises this includes a link to secondary resources (encyclopedia, subject, and topical indexes) similar to the national resources. NOTE: not all states are represented.

Black ' Law Dictionary. defines more than 55,000 law-related words and phrases, recording their historical and present-day nuances.

Statutory Resources

State Statutory Information Sources

The National Conference of State Legislatures is a rich source of 50-state surveys on various topics ranging from immigration to juvenile justice.  

The bill tracking database is here:  BILL TRACKING 

Encyclopedia Articles

What is wrong with using Wikipedia?  

Nothing is wrong with using Wikipedia as long as you understand its limitations, particularly as it relates to academic research. Information on Wikipedia is contributed freely by anyone who wants to post information without any consideration for the authority or credibility of the author.  

Does this mean that all of the information on Wikipedia is inaccurate? No, it simply means that you need to be more cautious about the information and recognize that this is a dynamic resource that changes overtime. Consequently, it is not good practice to cite Wikipedia entries in academic research, but Wikipedia can be a great resource as you begin to explore a topic, or to settle a bet with your roommate.  

What other choices do you have? How do you evaluate encyclopedias?

The University Libraries provide access to many specialized encyclopedias in a variety of fields of study. However, you should also be prepared to evaluate each for their scholarly value. Below are some suggestions of what to look for:

  • Who is the publisher?  
    • Typically those published by university presses are considered scholarly (e.g. Oxford, Cambridge, etc...)
    • These commercial publishers typically publish academic content: Blackwell, De Gruyter, Elsevier, Gale, Macmillan, Peter Lang, Routledge, Sage, Springer Publishers, Thomson Reuters
  • Who are the editors of the encyclopedia?  
    • Usually found in the front cover.  
    • What are their credentials?
  • Who are the authors?

Helpful Resources and Hints for Finding Articles in Encyclopedias

Video: Gale Virtual Reference is a collection of over 1000 scholarly and general reference resources. This video will demonstrate how to find articles using the topic "fertility rates." Showing you how to:

  • Limit your search

  • Expand your search

  • Point out some of the important features of an article to keep in mind

  • Explore information about the encyclopedia

  • Demonstrate how to cite the article using APA.

EL Lesson 3: Library Search Gale Virtual Reference Video Transcript (Links to an external site.)


What are handbooks?

Often times a particular topic gains ongoing scholarly interest that attracts the interest of a publisher or research organization. Authors who are known in the particular field of study are often asked to contribute chapters or to provide editorial oversight for these types of publications. Handbooks can provide a useful overview of the topic and help you identify some of the "movers and shakers" in that particular area of research.   

Helpful Resources and Hints for Finding Handbooks   

Video: Using LionSearch for Discovering Handbooks.  LionSearch allows you to search multiple databases at one time. This video will demonstrate how to find articles from scholarly handbooks using the topic "poverty rates." Showing you how to:

  • Start your search
  • Limit your results
  • Track key information for future searches
  • Demonstrate how to cite the article using APA.

EL Lesson 3: Using LionSearch for Handbooks Video Transcript (Links to an external site.)

QUICK SEARCH TIP FROM THE VIDEO: use the advance search in the resource LIONSEARCH Type in the search terms you are looking for. For example: population and poverty levels. In the next search box, but in the term "handbook" and change it from ALL FIELDS to TITLE.

Collection of Useful Titles

Journal Review Articles

What is a review journal?  A review journal in academic publishing is an academic journal devoted to the review of progress of empirical research in some particular area or topic during a preceding period often through the means of its publishing review articles.

IMPORTANT TIP: when you browse a particular journal online, the publisher will often designate whether or not the publication is a review article, editorial or research article.  If you discover an article using a search engine or library database and have doubts. Sometimes browsing the journal will help you determine how it is designated by the publisher.  

EXPLORE: if you want to explore some journals click on the link to see a list of CORE journal for criminology and criminal justice.

Law Review and Journal Articles