News & Views

KM Trainees’ Tips for Information Retrieval

8 November 2019

Information retrieval is one of the most important skills for a law student, and it is particularly relevant in academic writing. When writing your thesis, it is important that your argumentation is based on multiple reliable sources. For our KM trainees, different databases and tricks for information retrieval become familiar quite quickly. Below, you can find some of their best tips.

Regulation Regarding Certain Activities or Topics

As regulation becomes more complicated, one of the most common needs for information arises when you need to figure out what kind of regulation is associated with certain activities or topics. In this case, the following sources can come in handy:

  1. You can get started by using Google to get familiar with the relevant regulations.
  2. Ministries, such as the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and the Ministry of Education and Culture, present regulation connected to their respective fields on their websites.
  3. Information on regulation related to more specific fields can also be found on the websites of other authorities, such as the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency, the Finnish Patent and Registration Office, and the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority. The Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority has also created a webpage for sector-specific regulation, regulation projects, legislation, and international recommendations.
  4. Certain legal information services online also provide good tools for finding regulation on different topics. Under ‘Legislation’ in Edilex, for instance, there is a list of regulations organised by subject and an option to search by index term.
  5. These days, searching for regulation also covers EU legislation. EUR-Lex maintains a list of unconsolidated and consolidated EU regulations organised by subject. There is also a useful collection ‘Summaries of EU Legislation’, which makes it easy for the user to form a general view of the regulation related to a specific subject. Edilex also maintains a thematically arranged directory of EU legislation.

Legal Literature Covering a Specific Legal Phenomenon

Another common situation where a need for information arises is when the goal is to find legal literature covering a specific legal phenomenon. Searching for legal literature varies a little depending on whether you are looking for a commentary on a case, a regulation or recommendation collection of an authority, or a work clarifying a specific field of law or legal phenomenon.

Below, you can find a few tips for these types of situations:

  1. Different databases of libraries are a good way to get started. In the Selma database of the Library of Parliament, for instance, you can find a comprehensive index term search.
  2. Frank Metasearch acts as a mutual search engine for all Finnish libraries, including, for example, libraries of different counties, universities, and universities of applied sciences.
  3. Alma Talent’s up-to-date Fokus works often contain extensive literature catalogues that offer a good base for future research on a certain subject.
  4. Edilex’s legal library offers a comprehensive index term search, which makes it easy for the user to find articles and books covering a certain subject.
  5. Reference information on articles covering cases can be found in Finlex’s collection of legal praxis in literature.
  6. When searching for EU-related legal literature, you should also utilise the library database of the Court of Justice of the European Union, which contains references to books and articles.
  7. Commentaries on cases can easily be found in the commentary lists maintained by the Court of Justice of the European Union. In the lists, judgments are listed in the order of index number for each court.

In conclusion, it should be stated that categorising legal information sources in the modern day information society is near impossible. Someone who is searching for information can get help, for example, from the ELKI link database maintained by the Parliament, which works as a portal to legal databases as well as parliament and society data. Additionally, the University of Lapland’s Institute for Law and Informatics has collected on its website a list of links that users can use to access domestic and foreign legal information.

We hope that this list of tips offers tools for law students to improve their own skills of legal research needed in studying and later in work life.

KM Trainees at Hannes Snellman

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