Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Research Strategies for Seminar Papers

This guide provides a basic outline for researching a seminar paper.


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STEP 4: Focused Research

This is the step that requires extensive and in-depth research. utilizing multiple types of materials and resources. 

Before starting this step you will need to identify what types of information and resources you need (e.g., primary law, data, original documents, research studies). This step is necessary because you can't identify the resource you need if you haven't identified the information and how that information is disseminated.

For legal materials use the Law Library's research guides to identify resources by topic and jurisdiction; for non-legal materials use Lauinger Library's research guides. The reference librarians are always happy to help find where a particular thing, or type of information can be accessed. A research consultation can also be very he helpful at this point in your work.

Here are some general techniques to identify materials:

  • Mine the citations of the things you found during your exploratory research, the preemption check, and background research - identify relevant materials through the citations and access the materials via the library catalog, article databases, and Google search.  If Georgetown does not have the item, request it through Interlibrary Loan or Consortium Loan
  • Use the information that you gathered from the materials you found in the previous steps to inform your research. What types of resources did these authors use? Are there experts or known authors working in the subject area? Find additional materials using this information.
  • Use citators on Westlaw or Lexis to update cases, update statutes, and update regulations. Use the annotations to find additional related and relevant primary law and secondary sources. Use headnotes, Key Numbers (Westlaw), and Topics (Lexis) to find additional case law based on a specific issue or topic.
  • Many paper topics require the use of non-legal and/or non-academic materials, such as white papers, government reports, and data/statistics. These types of materials are often disseminated via government and organization websites and found using Google. If you are not able to find these types of materials, please ask the Reference Desk for help!