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First Year Focus on Research: Periodicals - LegalTrac

Information about resources available in the MLIC


Legal Periodicals - LegalTrac

What is LegalTrac

1. LegalTrac is an on-line index to articles in law reviews and law journals, specialty law journals, bar journals, and legal newspapers since 1980.

It is an on-line method of searching for legal periodical articles.  You can access it through either the McFarlin Library or the Mabee Legal Information Center website.  You can also get there by typing "Legaltrac" as a title in the online catalog.

2. The results from LegalTrac contain citations, abstracts, and increasingly full-text of articles.

a. For each entry, LegalTrac provides the title of the article, author,
a list of subjects, the name of the journal and the citation to where the article can be found in the journal.

3. Once you have your results list of articles from LegalTrac, you will look for the articles by first searching the online catalog to see whether the library provides a link to full-text online version of the journal or to the print copy of the journal. Of course, those articles which are full-text on Legaltrac may be printed directly from your Legaltrac citation list. 
Search Techniques

4.    The default search screen of Legaltrac is for Advanced Search.  This screen allows the searcher to select search indexes from a pull-down menu and then to enter search terms. To limit the results use the boxes provided.

5.    Words typed in search boxes with no connectors or wildcards are treated much like a phrase.

a.    Such a search looks for words within four words of each other
b.    The search: good samaritan as a keyword search typed into the 1st search box will yield articles with titles and/or subjects that have the word "good" and the word "samaritan" within four words of each other in any order.
c.    Sample result:  good Samaritan or Samaritan is good

Enclosing your search in quotation marks "good samaritan" will require that results have those words adjacent to each other in the order specified.

6.    Connectors

a.    AND:  To look for two words to be anywhere in the same entry, but not necessarily next to each other, use the connector "and".  The advanced search screen provides a template which allows you to select connectors.

1)    The keyword search:  "good Samaritan" and liability - will find articles in which the phrase "good Samaritan" and the word liability occur anywhere in the title, subject, author or text, if available in Legaltrac.

2)    This search will find results in which the two words are next to each other (as in the previous example) as well as words that are not close to each other

3)    Sample result:  "The effect of the good samaritan and negligence per se doctrines on government tort liability"

b.    OR:  To look for one word or another word

1)    Since "and" connectors are performed first, to be sure your search works correctly, you may need to use parentheses. 

2)    Ex:  good Samaritan and (liability or responsibility)

3)    This nesting technique first searches the words in the parentheses and then the results of that search are searched against the remaining term/s as the connectors or proximity operators specify.

   c. Not: to exclude words from the search.       

        1) The search crime not murder will find those records in which the             word crime occurs but not the word murder.

7.    To find many forms of a word, put a wildcard "*" at the end of the letters.

a.    To find goods, goodness, goodwill - type good*

To find liable or liability - type liab*

b.    This technique helps expand your research

8.    To find exactly one character use a wildcard "?". 

a. Search wom?n will find woman and women. 

9.    To find one or no characters use a wildcard "!". Useful when you want to get both singular and plural forms of a word but no other form of the word.

a. The search Samaritan! will find Samaritan or Samaritans.

10.    Generally, the more words you use, the fewer results you get.

11.    Limit boxes at the top of the results list will allow searchers to limit results.

12.    You can also search for a case or statute by name by enclosing search in quotes.
        Example: "Wakulich v. Mraz" or "Clean Air Act"

Search Results
    1. Search results are organized by content labels which reflect the type of article found.
Articles are listed under  content type on the left of the results list.  Contents types include academic journals, magazines, news, and video. 

2. Search results may be limited to full-text, peer-reviewed or those with images by using the check boxes to the left of the results list. Searching within the results using additional words to further limit the number of articles retrieved may be done in the Refine results search box to the left of the results list.

3. The list results indicate whether the article appears in Legaltrac as a citation only, with an abstract only, full-text or full-text with graphics.  Full-text articles may have PDF versions as well to help with citing to individual pages of an article.

4. Choosing an article from the citation list gives you further details about the selected
article. On the left of the screen you see related subjects which are helpful in finding similar articles. Clicking on any subject or subheading under a related subject will send you to a list of other articles which are indexed under that subject term.

5. Articles in the results lists may be marked and saved for printing or by using the Tools on the right of the results list you have the option of setting a search alert to notify you of similar articles as they are added to the Legaltrac database or sharing the article with others using e-mail, or social networks.