Oct 30 2013
We often recommend Hein Online (HO) as a great source for locating a wide range of materials–from historical U.S. legal materials to international treaties to articles in hundreds of law reviews. Journal staff members and others discover it can be an especially rich source for locating documents during source coordination. That everything is accessible in PDFs, preferred by editors concerned with following print-based Bluebook citation guidelines, makes HO the single best choice for many projects.
But those who have not used HO very much may be unfamiliar with the tools it provides to locate documents that might otherwise be hard to find. Search techniques vary with content type, but usually they include citation navigators, field searching and proximity searches.
In many cases, a researcher may simply need to retrieve a known document by citation–for example, the article by Robert Bork, Neutral Principles and Some First Amendment Problems, 47 Ind. L.J. 1 (1971). You could do this by browsing the library: select Indiana Law Journal under “I”; then open volume 47 and select the article beginning at page 1. But that’s the hard way: the Law Journal Library provides a Citation Navigator tool, allowing a user to type or paste the citation in a search box; or to begin typing in the abbreviated journal name into the form, and then adding volume and page numbers. Or you can use a simple or advanced search in such fields at article title or author name, as well as searching the full-text of the law journal library.
HO frequently provides a form-based finding aid to facilitate easy retrieval of documents by citation. For example, in treaty research, the first step can be locating a citation; the second, accessing the treaty text. Suppose you were seeking the text of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1967), published at 999 U.N.T.S. 171. HO’s United Nations Law Collection includes a finding tool, “Enter a United Nations Treaty Series Citation,” requiring only that the user enter the volume and page numbers to retrieve the treaty.
Comparable tools can be used to retrieve primary federal documents. For example, to access the original text of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 from HO’s U.S. Statutes at Large Library, you could use either its Public Law number, Pub. L. 93-205, or its Statutes at Large citation, 87 Stat. 884, to access the Act. Similarly, to retrieve Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) within the U.S. Supreme Court Library, the volume and page numbers in U.S. Reports can be added to the Citation Navigator; or the U.S. citation can be pasted in the form; or a search can be run, e.g., for party names in the Case Title field.
More advanced search techniques are also available on HO. While not comparable to searching on Lexis and Westlaw, HO’s search engine can be very effective. Suppose you were seeking statements by President Obama that addressed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy related to gay and lesbian military personnel. One of HO’s libraries is the U.S. Presidential Library, which includes dozens of sources, both historical and contemporary. Using the Advanced Search option after selecting a library, HO allows a user to run a proximity search like this: “sexual orientation military” ~50. The quotation remarks enclose the terms to be searched, and the number following the tilda symbol (~) indicates the size of the block of text within which the terms must be found for a document to be retrieved. That search of the presidential library, restricted to the years 2009-2013, retrieves six documents–including news conferences and campaign speeches–that might have been difficult to retrieve by searching news databases using Lexis, Westlaw or Google.
See HO’s Quick Reference Guide for more techniques, examples and details.
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