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Seton Hall Law

Research Assistant Resources

Tips and Resources for Faculty Research Assistants

Welcome!

Congratulations! You've been hired by a faculty member at Seton Hall Law as a Research Assistant! This guide is intended to help you navigate the resources available to you at the Law School Library and beyond.  If at any time you need any assistance or help, please let one of the librarians know! 

This guide provides tips on working successfully with your faculty member, suggested resources to get started with your research, including navigating online databases, and searching the Law Library Catalog.  

Liaison Librarians

Each full-time faculty member is assigned a reference librarian to be their primary library contact, or liaison. Librarian liaisons can be a valuable resource for research assistants. They often perform research on behalf of their assigned faculty, or otherwise work closely with their assigned professors to keep up-to-date about their research interests and activities.

RAs should feel free to contact their faculty member's librarian liaison at any point during the research process. You can also contact the librarian on duty during posted reference hours. We can help you organize a research strategy, walk you through locating or using specific resources, and answer your library-related questions.

Contact a reference librarian if you would like to make an appointment for a one-on-one research consultation or training.

Tips on Working with Faculty

We want your experience working with faculty to be a success. Below are some tips on communicating with faculty to help you get off to a great start.

Defining the Scope of Your Research

You may meet with your professor in person to discuss his or her research goals and timelines. Below are suggested questions to ask your professor that can help define the scope of a particular project.  This can help you save time and prevent confusion! 

  • How extensive does the professor want your research to be? Does he or she want a few articles and books providing an overview on a particular topic, or are he or she looking for something more in-depth?
  • Is the research limited to certain jurisdiction(s)?
  • Are there any important authors or works in the professor's field of interest that he or she can recommend?
  • What is the desired deadline? If you are given multiple assignments, which one is the highest-priority?

After you speak with your professor, it is a good idea to send him or her a follow-up email that outlines your understanding of your research assignment and reiterates any discussed deadline.

General Communication Tips

  • Treat all of your RA-related emails and other correspondence as professional communications. This means that, among other things, you should carefully proofread your communication to ensure proper spelling, grammar, lack of typos, and avoid slang words and phrases.
  • Check your email regularly and respond to professors with reasonable promptness.

 

Adapted from Pepperdine University School of Law's Guide to Law Library Services for Faculty Research Assistants Guide

Developing a Research Strategy

Your research will always start with a question or assignment from your faculty member. How specific this request depends on a number of variables.  It's always a good idea to write down as many specifics about the request as possible, and don't be afraid to ask questions to get the answers that you need. More often than not, your faculty member has a specific goal in mind, and you may need to ask questions to properly understand that goal.

At the Rodino Law Library, we've developed a research worksheet that you can use to help organize the information you've been given and develop a plan for your research. Feel free to make copies and use it as you're given research assignments.

Maintaining a Research Log

In addition to developing a research strategy, you should also keep a log of the research that you do. This will allow you to easily tell your faculty member what you have done on a project and allow them to note any areas that you may have missed or that may deserve more exploration. A research log should generally consist of: 

  • The databases/resources searched
  • The search terms used
  • An evaluation of how effective that search was
  • Why a selected source may be important 

Research Guides

In addition to the resources listed here, there are a number of websites containing compilations of sources on various topics. Some of the most useful are listed below:

Westlaw/LexisAdvance/Bloomberg Access

Are you doing research for your faculty member over the summer? Good News! Westlaw, Lexis Advance, and Bloomberg Law are all available to you!

Westlaw

Your password may be used during the summer for use in connection with:

  • Summer law school classes
  • Law review or law journal work
  • RA work or project for a professor
  • Moot court
  • Unpaid, nonprofit public-interest internship/externship pro bono work required for graduation

You do not have to do anything to maintain access to these tools over the summer.

Lexis Advance: 

  • You will automatically have free unlimited use of your law school Lexis Advance ID this summer. Just sign in as usual and start researching.

Bloomberg Law: 

  • Your Bloomberg Law password will remain active during the summer. You may use Bloomberg Law for all summer research purposes, educational or employment-related. If your employer has its own Bloomberg Law subscription, use of that subscription for employment-related work may be preferred. Check with your firm librarian.