online resources policy research

  • The assignment: (2–3 pages)

    • Identify the policy area that you selected.
    • Describe the online resources that you think are the most useful for researching the policy area that you selected and explain why.
    • Describe the online resources that you think are the least useful for researching the policy that you selected and explain why.
    • As a result of completing this assignment, explain at least one insight you had or conclusion you drew about using online resources for legal research.

    Support your Application Assignment with specific references to all resources used in its preparation. You are asked to provide a reference list only for those resources not included in the Learning Resources for this course


    • There are numerous benefits to using online resources for policy research, but there also are many potential drawbacks, particularly if those resources are free. While an unprecedented amount of information is available at the click of a mouse, it might be incomplete, unedited, or unfiltered. The absence of an organized flow of information makes it difficult to determine whether the information you find is accurate.

      Criteria for evaluating online resources vary depending on your research needs. When conducting legal research, you should look for the following attributes and select the resources that best match your needs: authority (author/publisher); purpose; currentness; and objectivity/bias. For example, if a government entity puts information online, then it likely has strong authority, but you may still need to check on how current the information is.

      To prepare for this assignment:

      • Review the assigned pages of Chapter 8 in your course text, Legal Research Methods. Pay particular attention to appropriate uses of the Internet as a tool for legal research. Also note the differences between fee-based online services versus free websites.
      • Select a policy area that interests you (e.g., education, healthcare, etc.).
      • Utilize all of the following free online resources, which organize information according to topic or subject, to search for information about your selected policy area:
        • Cornell: Legal Information Institute
        • WashLaw
        • MegaLaw
      • During your search, note any benefits or drawbacks of each resource. Think about which online resources were the most or least useful.

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