Cost-Effective Strategies for Researching Policy Issues

As a student, research costs are probably not an issue. Through the university library, you have access to a number of robust research resources and may use them for multiple courses. When you finish school, however, your resource access likely will change. Different types of organizations for which you are employed or might seek employment have different resource budgets and access. Some organizations have LexisNexis or Westlaw plans. Others have subscription databases for the benefit of their employees. Some maintain a collection of print resources, while some rely on various free websites. The most cost-effective approach to legal research involves having a good understanding of the resources available to you and knowing which resources you can access for free. 

A blended approach to resource use is one in which a researcher uses some free resources and some fee-based resources to conduct legal research. Resources that are free would include print resources in an organization’s collection or at an accessible library, databases that an organization subscribes to, and free websites. Fee-based services, such as Westlaw and Lexis, can be billed by month or per usage if an organization does not have an unlimited subscription. These powerful and sophisticated databases are very helpful to researchers, but you can do a lot of research without them. When constructing a research strategy to address a problem or issue, choose the resources that allow you to most effectively use the time and money available to you.

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Review the assigned pages of Chapter 8 in your course text, Legal Research Methods. Reflect on the tips provided for making a determination that you have done enough research. Think about how you can incorporate these tips into strategies for cost-effective research.
  • Review the article, “Cost-effective Legal Research Redux: How to Avoid Becoming the Accidental Tourist, Lost in Cyberspace.” Consider the free legal resources presented in the article and how each might serve different research needs.
  • Think about the research resources necessary to complete your Final Project and how a concern for cost might change your approach.

 

Post by Day 4 a brief description of two cost-effective strategies that you would use to research the issue that you selected for your Final Project. Explain how and why each strategy is cost-effective. Be specific.

 

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