Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Law Librarian Research Hack: Go to Oxford for Help

Sometimes you want something more scholarly and deeper than Wikipedia—and yet you still want an accessible source to start with, rather than devoting several weeks to reading a shelf of books. Like Goldilocks, you want something just right

For that certain set of information needs, I'm a big fan of Oxford Handbooks Online (available to UW users through the University Libraries). 
  • If you want to find a good introduction to what law-and-economics scholars say about medical malpractice, start with Ronen Avraham & Max M. Schanzenbach, Medical Malpractice, in 2 The Oxford Handbook of Law and Economics (Francesco Parisi ed., 2017). You'll find a 30-page PDF—21 1/2 pages summarizing the area, plus pages of references to lead you to important studies.

The Oxford Handbooks can be especially useful if you want to get an introduction to a concept from another discipline. The law library has licensed a lot of the law titles, but we also get the benefit of using the ones licensed by other campus libraries!
  • If you come across a law review article that's talking about Foucault and you don't know Foucault from Kung Fu, you might try Andrea Mennicken & Peter Miller, Michel Foucault and the Administering of Lives, in The Oxford Handbook of Sociology, Social Theory, and Organization Studies: Contemporary Currents (Paul Adler et al. eds., 2014).

"Brasen Nose College, Radcliffe Library & Part of the Schools," from
The Perambulation of Oxford, Blenheim, and Nuneham (1824),
available in the British Library's Flickr photostream
When you search the Oxford Handbooks Online, you can choose to search within one subject. Caution: sometimes a handbook might not be where you expect it. For instance, the handbooks on law and economics aren't in Law (they're in Economics).

You can also run a general search and then filter by subject. And you can also search for words to be in certain fields, like an article's headings or summary.

How do you get to Oxford Handbooks Online if you don't have this link handy? 
Now you try it. Search Oxford Handbooks Online for one of these:
  • "star wars"
  • "game of thrones"
  • "hello kitty"
  • seattle

This is #2 in our series of posts with short explanations of some of our favorite legal research and writing hacks (shortcuts and work-arounds that can make you more efficient).

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