Finding Journals and Law Reports

A row of leather bound books fills the frame from left to right. The title 'Session Cases' and the year are embossed on the spines. The leather is blonde and each spine has a red and black square.

Session Cases, image courtesy of the Supreme Court Library team, SCTS

Law reports and journal articles become increasingly important as students progress through their studies and research, and finding them can be tricky at times.

The library has access to a plethora of reports and journals but not everything is available online. Although we continually look for online access wherever it is available there is material that we can only receive in print.

The main places to get online access to law reports and journals is through our legal databases – mainly Westlaw, LexisLibrary and HeinOnline.

The Law Subject guide includes a section on Law Reports and access to eBooks. There is also information on the hierarchy of law reports to help students decide which reference to use when citing cases.

What to do if we do not have full online access?

Students often contact us asking why they can only get an abstract to the item they want in the online databases. This is because we do not get full text (full online) access to everything within all the databases. Sometimes we only have access to the bibliographic details such as the reference and abstract. So how can you get a copy of the full item?

Staff and students can use the interlibrary loan service to request items. This service involves us requesting material from partner libraries. There is a limit on how much can be requested and full details are on the interlibrary loan pages:

In Edinburgh staff and students also can get access to the National Library of Scotland who have a great range of resources available from their own collection and also through their relationship with the Faculty of Advocates’ Library.

If you’ve tried all the above avenues and are still struggling to get access to what you need, drop us an email on law.librarian@ed.ac.uk for some help.

 

Event: House of Commons Library and Briefing Paper Research

If you are interested in legal information and the research that goes into official publications, you may find this upcoming event hosted by the Scottish Law Librarians’ Group to be of interest.

The Scottish Law Librarians’ Group Presents, in association with the Advocates’ Library, Edinburgh:

The House of Commons Library and Briefing Paper Research

Thursday 1st July 2021. 7pm-8.30pm

The SLLG Committee and Advocates’ Library are delighted to introduce the inaugural event in our new online lecture series which we hope will be of great interest to law librarians, legal professionals, law students and anyone with an interested in professional legal research.

David Torrance is an experienced researcher at the House of Commons Library and has worked on briefing papers relating to both Scottish Independence and current events in Northern Ireland.

In this talk he will introduce the work of the House of Commons Library, explaining the resources available, how research is conducted, and how briefing papers contribute to the work of the House. We will look at some of the briefing papers David has authored, specifically with reference to issues of relevance for legal professionals in Scotland such as the legality of an independence referendum. The event will also include time for questions after David’s presentation.

This is an online event which will be hosted on Zoom. A link to the event will be sent out to registered attendees two days prior to the talk. The event will be recorded and a link will be circulated to attendees along with additional resources relating to David’s work following the event.

Register on Eventbrite

Session Cases: Celebrating 200 years of Scotland’s prestigious law report series

A row of leather bound books fills the frame from left to right. The title 'Session Cases' and the year are embossed on the spines. The leather is blonde and each spine has a red and black square.

Session Cases volumes 1971-1982, image courtesy of the Supreme Court Library team, SCTS.

This year the Scottish Council of Law Reporting celebrates 200 years of publishing Session Cases, Scotland’s most authoritative law report series. From the SCLR website:

The Session Cases law report series contains all the key appellate decisions, civil and criminal, from the Court of Session and High Court of Justiciary in Scotland together with selected cases decided at first instance.

Also included in Session Cases are all decisions, as issued, on Scottish appeals to the House of Lords and to the Privy Council. All judgments are reported in full.

The judges who gave opinions (judgments) in each case have the opportunity to review the report before it is published – this gives Session Cases its unsurpassed authority in Scottish courts.

The first case ever published in Session Cases was Rev. Wm. Strang v Wm. McIntosh (1821) 1 S.5, dated 12 May 1821. You can access a copy of this case via our subscription databases Westlaw or Lexis Library UK, via the Law Databases page. If you’re not familiar with using these databases we have a recording of a session on Using Legal Databases available here (22 mins) There’s more information about SC and other law reports available via our subscription services on the Law Subject Guide ‘Law Reports’ page.

To mark this anniversary the Scottish Council of Law Reporting is running a poll to determine readers’ top three cases featured in Session Cases. They don’t have to be the most important cases, legally, but may be just a quirky case or one that has caught your interest. You can vote for your cases here: SurveyLegend Survey.

Another way SCLR marked this milestone was by creating a postgraduate research scholarship available to students in Scottish institutions studying Scots Law. The inaugural recipient of this award was Shona Warwick, a PhD candidate at Edinburgh. The scholarship will contribute to her tuition and living costs as she completes her PhD thesis on Leases and Licences in Scotland. From the SCLR headlines page describing Shona’s research:

For commercial landlords and tenants in Scotland, the common law, rather than legislation, is the source of most rules. Yet, despite its widespread practical importance, a lack of research has left the common law regarding leases and licences to occupy riddled with uncertainty. Through a historical study, this research sheds light for the first time on some of the most fundamental unanswered questions: it evaluates which occupancy agreements can be validly created, and how their formation requirements differ.

The announcement of Shona’s success featured in the Scottish Legal News bulletin in September last year. Shona is also the winner of one of the two Scottish Universities Law Institute (SULI) Scholarships. Congratulations Shona!

Three new things: Dissertations

It’s around the time where many of our students will be planning and beginning the research for their dissertations. If you’re at the start of this journey and looking for a bit of help we’ve got three new things which we hope will help you on your way.

1: Llm Dissertation : How to Maximise Marks for Your Practice Focused Dissertation by Suzanne Reece.

Book cover, which features an orange background and a student sitting at a desk facing away from the viewer. Visible on the desk are a laptop and many open books, and there are number hovering around the student's head, implying they are surrounded by research data.

This book is brand new to the library and while it is focused on specifically LLM dissertations, it contains useful information about how to plan for any large research project in Law. Chapters include helping choose your topic, planning and timing, and #SurvivalTips. Reece identifies top tips and common mistakes in students’ work and suggests activities to help you explore your research thoroughly. As such it’s more of a handbook than a set of rules to follow, but we think it will help answer many of the frequently asked questions that students have early in the process.

We have this ebook on an unlimited user license, which means that there’s no waiting and no queue to take it out. Find access information via the DiscoverEd record for this item.

2: Dissertation Festival (Guide and Festival Bag)

You may have seen that Library Services ran our second Dissertation Festival for the year in March 2021. While the festival events don’t exactly line up with Law Dissertation timetable, the wonderful thing about hosting the festival online is that we can keep the resources around for you to access just when you need them most!

  • Are you looking for some inspiration for which of the library collections can help you with your research?
  • Do you need some support in constructing your search strategy, or managing your results?
  • Would you like some tips from students who’ve previously completed their dissertation work?

The Dissertation Festival subject guide has all this and much more available with the click of a button! Recordings are available for our live sessions and slides have been added.  Plus you can access my favourite part, the festival tote bag (not a real bag) via the link on the front page. We can’t furnish you with free pens and post-its for the next academic year, but we do have an image of a penguin and a bagpiper from our collection that you can use as your Zoom background…

3: A twitter thread on #EdLitSearchTips

Our Academic Support Librarian colleagues have been compiling a list of tips that will help you get started with literature searching. Although you may have used DiscoverEd or our Library Databases to find materials for your assignments before, click through to this series of tweets to get advice from information professionals whose business it is to help you find information!

A screen capture of a tweet which features a black and white image of the corner of a laptop, a mug containing many pens and other stationery, and another mug.  The text in the tweet reads "The librarians often get asked for advice on literature searching - so over the next few weeks we will be tweeting some hints and tips! So look out for our #EdLitSearchTips".

Click this image to find a list of #EdLitSearchTips

If you’re struggling to get started with your research, why not arrange a one-to-one with one of the Law Librarians to discuss your research question and which direction you’d like to go? We can help suggest resources or even just provide advice on the best way to go about searching. Look out for the next available ‘Literature search clinic’ appointment using the MyEd Booking System and find the option for ‘Law’. Further details on how to book can be found on this earlier post on our blog, or just email law.librarian@ed.ac.uk.

Literature search clinics: one-to-one sessions

Do you need help with your research? Have you got yourself into a muddle using legal resources online? Do you just need to know what you need to know?

Book a one-to-one meeting with one of the Law Librarians to discuss your research issues or library problems. In previous one-to-ones we’ve helped students with:

  • search strategies
  • using our subscription databases
  • finding international case law
  • finding historical Scots material online (specifically the Institutional Writers)
  • referencing (specifically using OSCOLA)
  • setting up news alerts for cases or legislation

We arrange appointments once a fortnight using the MyEd booking system. Search for “Literature search clinic” and select the Law specific event, or search for “Law” and select provider group “IS Library and University Collections” to find all our Law related training. Future dates include:

  • 18th March (currently booked)
  • 6th April
  • 22nd April
  • 3rd May
  • 20th May

We release appointments approximately three weeks before the meeting, and all meetings are currently held online via Microsoft Teams with links sent out the week before the appointment. If you cannot see an available meeting slot that suits you please email law.librarian@ed.ac.uk and we will arrange an appointment to suit.

Two silver coloured tin cans are connected by a string. The open end of one can faces the viewer, while the open end of the other faces the right side of the picture. The cans are lying down on a cream marbled background.

Chris Potter, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

New Resources

A poster stating 'Edinburgh Everywhere: your library online' and depicting people busy with stacks of books surrounding a half-globe. Statistic about library services are shown in colourful circles are written across the middle of the page, echoing the half-circle shape of the globe.

Throughout the year the Law Librarians purchase new materials – sometimes following requests, and other times to ensure that new editions of established and key texts are available to staff and students. This part of our work has been especially busy this last year as learning and teaching has gone online!

Requests are received from students, staff and colleagues from across the Law School. Some are related to specific courses, but many are to support the research undertaken by staff and students.

We thought we would take this opportunity to let you know about a few of the new items we have recently ordered and received in:

This last item is a 13 volume set comprising of around 9000 pages, making it an incredibly helpful resource on the topic of the history of the Kurdish people. Having access to this material makes Edinburgh one of a select number of universities who give access to their students and staff to this unique resource.


Staff and students can place requests directly using the online forms available on the Library webpages.

If we cannot purchase the item (may be it is an older edition, out of stock, or not available in the online format you want) then we recommend you use the Interlibrary Loan Request Service which allows us to try to source access from other libraries or academic institutions.

If you would like us to consider a subscription, or you want to discuss your request further you can email us in the usual way using law.librarian@ed.ac.uk.

Happy reading!

The problem with ebooks

Two hands enter the screen, one from each side of the image. One is holding a smartphone which has a book spilling out of the side, the other has a pile of paper currency which is being offered in exchange.

Image from mohamed_hassan via Pixabay

Working and studying through the Coronavirus pandemic has meant that we’re more reliant on ebooks and other electronic resources than ever before. As much as we would have liked for this to be a seamless transition to hybrid learning, it’s been a struggle throughout the year to make sure that we have access to all the essential materials you need for your coursework.

One of the reasons that we’re not always able to provide ebook access is that publishers do not always make their material available electronically. They may do this for a number of reasons, one of which is that they are worried they will not make the same amount of profit from print book sales as they usually would. They may also make the price of the ebook much much higher than the price of an individual print book to compensate for this potential loss of sales. For us in the Law school, we have found problems where publishers make books only available if you purchase access to an entire database of resources, often for hundreds of thousands of pounds, when we only need access to a handful of ebooks. This is not a realistic way for us to purchase access – budgets for resources are limited and getting tighter every year.

Some academic librarians in the UK have joined forces to launch an investigation into this spike in ebook prices and limits to availability because it is seriously affecting the courses that universities are able to run. You can read more about this campaign and the open letter sent to the UK Government asking for support here: https://academicebookinvestigation.org/ 

More recently, this campaign has had some publicity in national newspapers including this article in The Guardian by Anna Fazackerley, ‘Price gouging from Covid: Student ebooks costing up to 500% more than in print’:  https://www.theguardian.com/education/2021/jan/29/price-gouging-from-covid-student-ebooks-costing-up-to-500-more-than-in-print

Last week it was announced that the Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) has petitioned the Competitions and Markets Authority to investigate this issue:
https://academicebookinvestigation.org/2021/02/04/chartered-institute-of-library-and-information-professionals-cilip-formally-petitions-competition-and-markets-authority-cma-to-investigate-practices-of-academic-ebook-publishers/ 

We wanted to draw your attention to these items so that you’re aware that action is being taken at a national level, and that librarians and academics are working hard to ensure that higher education institutions are not held to ransom over ebook access. The issues we’re facing here in Edinburgh are not unique, but they are very worrying.  We hope that the investigations that are now being proposed will result in fairer and more equitable access for all in future.

If you’re worried about ebook access to core material for your course please speak to your course organiser or email us, law.librarian@ed.ac.uk.

Dissertation Festival: Monday 8th – Friday 19th March 2021

  • Do you want to find out more about the library resources available to support your dissertation question?
  • Are you interested in learning how to manage the bibliographic and research data you’ve found?

Join us in a fortnight of online events and find out what the Library can do for you to help you succeed with your dissertation.

  • Make your dissertation something special : find out about the fantastic collections available at the Centre for Research Collections
  • Discover the full range of digital resources that you can access via the University
  • Take the first steps to learn new skills in managing your bibliographic references and your research data

We know that in Law your dissertation period starts later in Semester Two, but it’s never too early to start planning and see what resources are out there! We’ll also be recording many live sessions which will be available to watch back at a time that suits you.

Find out more at: https://edinburgh-uk.libguides.com/dissertation

For more information about how the library can support your dissertation or research project, contact us by emailing law.librarian@ed.ac.uk, or book a one-to-one appointment with us using the MyEd booking system: search for ‘law’ and find the listing for ‘literature search clinic’.

A person is standing in front of a wall with his back to the camera. The wall is covered with bits of white paper showing images, notes and text, suggesting he is organising his thoughts and constructing a plan.

Forward planning is important! (Image from pexels on pixabay)

Meet your LexisNexis Student Associate!

We’d like to introduce you to Sam Ingleton, one of your fellow students who is a specialist in working with LexisNexis and all their resources – such as the invaluable LexisLibrary database. We asked Sam some questions and hope you’ll enjoy getting to know him just as we did!

Tell us a little bit about yourself! Who are you and what do you study at Edinburgh?

My name is Sam, and I’m taking a Graduate-Entry LLB, following a Philosophy and English Literature (MA) from the University of Edinburgh. I’ve been fortunate to receive a training contract offer from DLA Piper in Edinburgh, which starts in 2022 – a wonderful certainty in a time of global upheaval! Studying for my LLB and working for LexisNexis leaves relatively little time for extra-curricular activities, but I enjoy winemaking, writing, music production, and exploring the city with my dog in my spare hours. I’ll be living in Edinburgh for the foreseeable future, resisting the lure of London for as long as possible; this is a city with a lot to offer young professionals and students (as long as you don’t mind the short days and pervasive drizzle!).

Why did you apply to be the student associate for LexisNexis?

LexisNexis is an extremely useful platform. It has helped me in my own studies, and prepared me for a future of legal research in a professional context. I always had ambitions to teach, but I could never manage full-time academia or classroom teaching. My sister teaches primary school children – a difficult, but extremely admirable profession! Working as a LexisNexis student associate is a fantastic compromise: I find great fulfilment in the practise of academic tuition. As well as the obvious benefits which come with competence in legal research, LexisNexis gave me the opportunity to be of benefit to others, in a community that thrives on a collective, supportive, inclusive ambition.

What do you think is the best feature that LexisLibrary offers for students?

With LexisLibrary, it’s the simple, intuitive functions which bring the most value. My favourite tools are those which barely merit an explanation! The ability to ‘drill-down’ through search results, narrowing by key words, topics, and specific search strings makes finding both familiar and unknown cases incredibly straightforward. This functionality accelerates the process of constructing new legal arguments, as well as enabling those searching for case law to support a specific point in an essay or tutorial question.

If you could name one top tip that everyone should know about your platform, what would it be?

One thing I wish I had known before I began the infamously arduous application process: the ‘alerts’ function. Using this tool, I receive weekly updates on developments at my target firms, which I never would have found using Google, or combing through legal news publications. This way, as soon as cases and judgements reach the press, I can see how my firm has been involved, and read their submissions and the judge’s opinion in full. This would be a much more interesting talking point during an interview than anything I presented during my own assessment period. For aspiring solicitors, I think LexisNexis is an often-neglected opportunity to monitor your specific firms very closely. You’ll never need to have a generic ‘legal implications of the pandemic’ discussion ever again!

When students book a training session with you, what can they expect to get from the meeting?

I’m proud of my ability to move students through the certification quickly, and highlight the tools which I think will be most useful to them, selectively and efficiently. It’s no secret that law students are time-poor, and ‘talking heads’ on video conferences are a very modern nuisance. I try to keep engagement high, explanations concise, and then give the session to the attendees to complete the certification and ask questions. Ideally, the whole process is complete in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee. I also like to highlight the extreme usefulness of the certification. I spoke to a partner at an international law firm, who expressed to me that the thing they wanted to see from this generation of applicants was a complete literacy in legal database use. I think this could be the key to transforming a good application into an application which secures a training contract.

Sam has provided an introductory poster in case you want to read a bit more about how he can help you with all your LexisNexis needs. You can contact him via LinkedIn, by email (sam.ingleton@googlemail.com), or you can find out more on the LexisNexis Students UK Facebook page.

Referencing and Beyond Reading Lists

Last week the Law Librarians held a Referencing training session- focussing on OSCOLA!

If you didn’t get a chance to come along then don’t worry as we will be uploading the recording on to the Law Librarians Media Hopper Channel very soon.

 


Another date for your diary….

On the 2nd December at 9am there will be a Beyond your Reading List session- looking at where else you may find useful and relevant information.

Details are available on the events booking at https://www.events.ed.ac.uk/index.cfm?event=book&scheduleID=44060 

screenshot of presentation