BOO-lean operators

We know Hallowe’en was last week, but saw this on Twitter and it’s too good not to share! If you’ve ever wondered what library staff (and mathematicians and engineers and many other professions) talk about when they mention Boolean operators or logic gates, this handy infographic from @38mo1 may help!

A grid of three images across, two rows deep. Each image shows an example of Boolean searching/logic gates using halloween images of pumpkins and phrases to demonstrate. The first shows Trick OR Treat, two circles which overlap with the entire shape coloured. The second shows Trick AND Treat with just the overlapping area coloured. The third shows Trick XOR Treat with the area inside the circles which does not overlap coloured. The fourth shows Trick NOR Treat, with the area outside the circles and overlap coloured. The fifth shows Trick NAND Treat, with everything in the image apart from the overlapping area coloured. The sixth shows Trick XNOR Treat, which shows everything outside the circles plus the overlapping areas coloured but not the main body of each circle.

Traditionally search engines and databases used Boolean operators along with keywords to help you search more constructively. Some (like Google) now accept natural language searching, but many academic or technical databases still require you to search in this format.

For example, if you search on DiscoverEd:

  • “Property Law” OR Servitudes: 70,745 results.
  • “Property Law” NOT Servitudes: 57,500 results.
  • “Property Law” AND Servitudes: 154 results.

Those little connecting words can make all the difference!

For more help with searching, watch this short video (9 minutes) about Search Techniques on our Law Librarian Media Hopper Channel. Unfortunately pumpkins not included.

Lexis+ database training: LexisNexis Certification

You may remember last week we posted a reminder about the Lexis+ training we had scheduled. That training took place yesterday and those that attended found it very helpful, so we’re putting the recording and information about how to get certified with LexisNexis up here too.

LexisNexis offers four levels of certification for students in the UK – Foundation level for England and Wales, Foundation level for Scotland, Advanced level for England and Wales, Advanced level for Scotland. Our students can pick whichever is the most relevant for them, or complete all of them if they want to collect the set!

First, you’ll need to watch the Foundation level training video (recorded yesterday by Claire Black of Lexis UK). You can find that on our Media Hopper Channel or by clicking the image below.

Screencap of the paused training video, showing a demonstration of the Lexis+ platform.  Image links to video recording hosted on Media Hopper.

Next you will need to log in to Lexis+. The best way to do this is using the link on the Law databases page; it currently says ‘LexisLibrary’ but I’m in the process of getting that updated to Lexis+. If when you’re logged in you arrive at the screen that says ‘Nexis’ at the top of the page, click the nine dots in a square next to the Lexis logo, and you should be able to click ‘Lexis+ UK’ instead.

screengrab showing the nine dots arranged in a square which reveals a dropdown menu, with options for Lexis+ UK, Nexis, or Nexis Dossier.

Then Claire has provided the following instructions:

  1. Make sure you are logged in to Lexis+ through the University – you will need to use the site to answer the questions.
  2. In a new tab or window, access the LexisNexis Student Hub: https://www.lexisnexis.co.uk/law-students/overview.html
  3. Register your details – your choice whether to choose university or personal email. It gives you access thereafter if you need to retake the test or want to do other certifications. Course end date is the date you intend to graduate.
  4. Once registered, scroll down the page to where it says ‘Get Certified’ and choose Lexis+ UK Legal Research Certification (there is the option for the Practical Guidance one, but given access to practice areas can vary, it’s probably safer to stick to research)
  5. You will then see a page which lists 6 steps to being certified. Scroll past this to the bottom and there are 4 options: Foundation and Advanced Certifications for either England and Wales, or Scotland.
  6. You will then enter your email address (which allows you to come back later and will allow you to retake the test if necessary)
  7. 15 multiple choice questions which are completely randomised. 13/15 correct to pass. You must use Lexis+ to answer the questions.
  8. You can take the test as many times as you need to pass.
  9. Certificate will be emailed to you upon passing within 24 hours.

Our thanks to Claire and all at Lexis for making sure our students are well trained and well prepared for legal research! Good luck to anyone choosing to take one of the Certification tests. If you encounter any issues please let us know on law.librarian@ed.ac.uk.

Lexis+ database training: Thursday 20th October

We’ve got a training day for the new Lexis+ database coming up which we highly recommend for students of all levels. The new platform from Lexis replaces LexisLibrary and LexisPSL so it’s well worth getting to know, whether you’ll be using databases for assignments, dissertations, research or as a legal practitioner. In each of these sessions Lexis trainer Claire will take attendees through training and tips for using the platform at either foundation or advanced level.

If you book the 10.30am or 2pm slot you will also gain the chance to sit your Lexis Certification test, which means you will gain a certificate perfect to put on your CV – future employers will be impressed if you come to them with certified research skills!

Book using the links below or search for ‘Lexis+’ on the MyEd Events Booking system.

If you can’t make the sessions but still require help using the Lexis+ database, you can view our video (38 mins) recorded by Lexis trainer Claire specifically for our Diploma students. It provides a great all-round view of the database and where to find key items.

Please contact SarahLouise on law.librarian@ed.ac.uk if you have any questions or concerns about the live sessions or getting help with any of our databases.

Information skills throughout the year

If you read our last post, you’ll have heard all about the top information we like our students to have early in the semester; about inductions and key resources we want to make sure you can access. Now we’re a few weeks in we’ve had some more questions about what we have coming up next.

We have made up two documents here (one for undergraduate students, one for postgraduate students) which outlines the key training events we’ll be offering during 2022/23. This includes some law specific materials and some training that is open to all UoE students. Click on the documents below to download the PDF you need:

Information Skills sessions for Law (UG)

Information Skills sessions for Law (PG) 

We’ll write more about specific training sessions nearer each event but in the mean time we hope this is useful. If you want to get in touch to discuss any library or research related questions, you can always reach us via law.librarian@ed.ac.uk.

 

Welcome and welcome back!

Hello, and if this is your first time visiting the Law Librarian Blog, we’re glad you made it! This is where we  post updates about training, resources, library access and anything else we think you might need to know. We hope you’ll find the blog a useful place throughout the year.

So welcome week has come and gone already and we’re straight into Week One of teaching. We’ve been busy running induction sessions for student at all levels but don’t worry if you missed out, recordings of all online sessions have been uploaded to our Media Hopper channel:

There’s information about what’s available in the library and what we have online access to listed in DiscoverEd, which you can find here:

And finally, some other resources that can help you get started with legal research:

We completely understand the first few weeks of a new academic year are swamped with information, and it’s probable that you’ll have too much to take in for now. However if you bookmark this page or these resources we hope they’ll be useful when you need them. If you have questions please feel free to get in touch at any time by leaving a comment or emailing us directly: law.librarian@ed.ac.uk.

Using modules in LexisPSL

This summer we’ve increased the number of modules we have access to in LexisPSL due to student demand! Students and staff can now view all the practitioner advice and notes in each of the following areas:

  • Banking & Finance
  • Commercial
  • Corporate
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Employment
  • Private Client
  • Property
  • Restructuring & Insolvency

We find that the materials on PSL are particularly helpful for our Diploma students, but all staff and students can view what’s included by following these simple steps:

  1. Visit the Law Databases page, and scroll down to find the link for LexisPSL.
  2. If prompted, log in using the link that says ‘use academic sign in’ and then select UK Access Management Federation. Select University of Edinburgh from the list, accept the terms and conditions, and if necessary log in using your UUN.
  3. You will arrive at the LexisPSL homepage in the Banking & Finance module. Use the dropdown arrows next to the title of the module to select which module you would like to view. This is highlighted in green in the image below. NOTE: we have access to all the modules with a grey tick next to them.

The Lexis platforms for PSL and Lexis Library will be changing as of September; we will provide further instructions and demo videos on how to access these resources in the first weeks of the 2022-2023 academic year. Look out for information on training and induction sessions from the UG and PG offices in September, or contact us if you have questions in the mean time.

American Prison Newspapers, 1800-2020: Voices from the Inside

The library has access to a new collection from JSTOR.

Image of books stacked on a small table in the foreground on the mezzanine of the Law Library, looking out across a room full of students studying in the Senate Room (out of focus).

Books stacked on a table on the Law Library mezzanine. Photo by Sam Stills, copyright University of Edinburgh.

American Prison Newspapers, 1800-2020: Voices from the Inside.

The first newspaper published within a prison by an incarcerated person was Forlorn Hope, in 1800. Since then more than 450 newspapers from U.S. prisons have been published. Some are still in publication today such as Angolite and the San Quentin News. 

This collection brings together hundreds of these periodicals from across the US into one collection. Representing various institutions there is special attention on women-only institutions.

The collection is open access and can be accessed via the A-Z list of databases.

 

 

Ridicule and research support: Library Twitter strikes back!

Library and research branches of Twitter were outraged recently when two American Law students published a paper in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy relating to abortion rights. The anger centred around the hypothesis that because the students didn’t find any historical literature relating to the term ‘abortion’ in their searches, that abortions simply didn’t exist in American history.

Tweet from Jacqueline Antonovich which reads: Fun story: These two law students published a paper about how they typed in the word "abortion" in a primary source database, didn't find much, and therefore conclude that "Founding Era Americans" didn't really know what abortions were and it was synonymous with miscarriage.

The thread of tweets goes on to explain that the furore surrounding this published paper is not that there was an investigation into historical abortions (which is topical worldwide since the recent overturn of the US Roe V Wade case), but that the flawed methodology was passed through teams of reviewers and editors and allowed to be published. Jacqueline Antonovich goes on to cite an article by Dr Lauren MacIvor Thompson published in the New York Times in 2019 entitled ‘Women have always had abortions’. (This article is behind a paywall but staff and students at the University of Edinburgh can read it in full using some of the news databases that the Library subscribes to.)

Aside from there being an entire school of academic research dedicated to the history of birth control rights, you may be wondering ‘what did those students actually do wrong?’ Dr Gillian Frank (@1gillianfrank1) provides some guidance in his tweets:

Fun fact: Just because you don’t find evidence in one database when you type in the word “abortion,” doesn’t mean a practice didn’t exist. Better historical questions are: Am I using the right keywords? Under what conditions could matters relating to abortion be spoken about?

Ronit Stahl (@ronitstahl) agreed:

And from there, ask questions like *Who* would be talking about this? Who would *write* about this? What *kinds* of documents/sources might include mention of this? *Where* might we find those sources? *How* do we think about/interpret silences?

More information about how to critically assess a search like this can be found by reading through Dr Frank’s twitter thread. Twitter can be an excellent tool for sharing resources and promoting discussion. This example is not only relevant because of the current news cycle but also because awareness of the importance of interrogating research methodologies rigorously is crucial if you are to publish well respected pieces of research.

Consider the bias in all your sources.

  • What power structures led to this work being published?
  • Who is speaking and why is their viewpoint important?
  • Who is missing from the conversation?
  • If there is a solitary viewpoint, why is this one in focus?

Librarians talk about bias quite often when discussing critical information skills with students and staff, because we want to be sure that the inferences you make from your source material are sound and fully considered. The Academic Support Librarian team have recently been working with one of our student interns to produce an online resource to help students to expand their searches and diversify their reading, due to be published this summer. We’ve also been crafting a toolbox to help our academic staff colleagues start conversations about including a wider range of resources in their core reading lists. Watch out for more news of both of these going live on the ASL blog.

In the mean time, if you’re struggling with your research and would like some advice on more robust search methodologies, you can contact the Law Librarians by email: law.librarian@ed.ac.uk, or any of our colleagues from the ASL team using the contact information on the ASL by subject area page. Although classes and exams are finished, we are around all summer so please contact us to make an appointment!

Dissertation Support

At this time of year many students are finishing their dissertations. There are a few places where students can get some advice and support on this in relation to library resources:

  • Law Librarian Resources Media Hopper Channel: We have collated several videos that cover using legal databases and also referencing.
  • Law Subject Guide: This collates all the useful legal resources that the library has in one guide. With links out to useful resources it also has a section on referencing.
  • List of Legal related databases: This list collates resources that students could find useful for their studies. It helps to distill ones that relate to this subject area- however if the research spans other topics then looking through the lists for those areas could also offer useful resources. If you are not sure which database will help then take some time to look at the descriptions.
  • LibSmart II Legal Module: This short online module offers information and advice on finding legal resources.
  • Contacting the Academic Support Librarians who support the Law School: You can contact us on Law.Librarian@ed.ac.uk .

Other help and advice:

The Institute for Academic Development have resources which offer assistance to students undertaking their dissertations.

 

 

Roe v Wade, or how to find international resources

A scanned photo of the original black and white photograph taken by Lorie Shaull at the Supreme Court. Norma McCorvey, left, who was Jane Roe in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case, stands with her attorney, Gloria Allred, outside the Supreme Court in April 1989. They hold a circular sign that says 'Keep Abortion Legal'.

Norma McCorvey, left, who was Jane Roe in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case, with her attorney, Gloria Allred, outside the Supreme Court in April 1989, where the Court heard arguments in a case that could have overturned the Roe v. Wade decision. [Photo by Lorie Shaull, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons]

If you’ve been online over the past few days it is likely you’ll have heard about the leaked majority draft from SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) which suggests that landmark case Roe v Wade may about to be overturned. This news comes from Politico, a political news company based in the USA.

If you are interested in the outcome of this draft, you may be interested in finding reputable sources for American legal information. Fortunately we have access to several.

In the UK the Act to amend and clarify the law relating to termination of pregnancy by registered medical practitioners came into force in 1967. It is referred to as The Abortion Act 1967, and the full text can be viewed on Westlaw.

Don’t forget that when viewing legislation on Westlaw it is possible to view amendments and previous versions of Acts by using the navigational tools. In the below image you can see where to locate information about previous versions of this section. By clicking on each hyperlinked version title you will see the text of the Act as it was when each version was in force.

Snapshot of a page of legislation from Westlaw UK. A red box highlights the area towards the bottom right of the page, showing that this section is version five of five, and listing the timeline for previous versions and the dates each was in force.

If you have any questions about finding legislation or reputable law sources for your research you can contact us on law.librarian@ed.ac.uk at any time to arrange an appointment with one of us. We’d love to hear about your research and help you find academic resources for your work.