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Fall 2021 Update: New and/or Helpful WSU Libraries Resources and Services

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  • We bumped up our abstract and indexing subscription for Philosopher’s Index to a subscription that includes full-text content for the next year (2021-2022)

Temporary Access, Summer 2021 and following

  • JSTOR  - we have access to ALL their journal content (they divide it into specific collections, and we don’t subscribe to all of them), and the ArtStor database through the end of June *2022*.
  • We will be continuing our Roper Center (survey data iPoll database plus more) access through 3/31/2022. Probably not after, however. Note: If you create an account, please carefully read the  Terms and Conditions (which you should  always do, of course)!
  • We have access to PolicyMap through the end of [updated!] December of 2021. (They have a new version with extra functionality but to download data you have to use the legacy (default) version) - blog at Mapchats Blog | PolicyMap to provide some use cases, etc. 
  • What is PolicyMap?

An online (no software installation needed) U.S. national data and mapping tool and analytics platform with multidisciplinary applications for college students and faculty.  Undergraduate and graduate schools use us in their curriculum and research related to social sciences, urban studies, real estate and housing analysis, community and economic development, public administration, public health, policy and political science, education, business, economics, statistics, and geography, among others. Users can leverage thousands of U.S. data indicators in PolicyMap to perform demographic and socioeconomic analysis, from a neighborhood census block group in many cases, up to a national level, as well as create custom regions, for their research and studies.  
 Look for Blog Posts, Customer Stories, and sample Maps, Tables, and Reports.

  • Our MapChats Blog features stories on Mapping Consumer Spending Habits, Internet Access Disparities, and the Social Drivers of Health and more!
  • Our Academic Web Page gives insight into how other universities and colleges use our data and mapping tool
  • Visit PolicyMap Support for tutorials, training videos, the training calendar.
  • A complete list of our data related to Demographics, Incomes and Spending, Housing, Lending, Quality of Life, Economy, Education and Health can be found here

Introduction: What Law Is and How to Read a Legal Citation

What Law Is

"Law, in its generic sense, is a body of rules or action or conduct prescribed by controlling authority, and having binding legal force."  Black's Law Dictionary.

To do any legal research a knowledge of the four forms of law: Constitutional law, Statute law, Administrative law, and Case law, is essential.  "Legal research" consists of tracing the history of constitutions, statutes, court cases, and administrative regulations - looking for connections between them, and making interpretations and judgments of them.


  1. Constitutional Law: Constitutions provide the framework for the functioning of governments. They also create the “legislative body” that  governs a country or state. The United States Constitution created the United States Congress, and the Washington Constitution created the Washington State Legislature.
  2. Statute Law: Statute laws, or acts, are passed by the legislative body: Congress or the State Legislature and signed by the executive: the President or the Governor.
  3. Administrative Law: The rules, regulations, licenses and decisions made by administrative agencies that operate under the executive.
  4. Case Law: When two parties disagree about what a law means, they ask a court to make a decision as to what is the proper interpretation of the law.


How to Read a Legal Citation

Any law, court case, rule or regulation has a legal citation.  Legal citations has a specific format and it is different from the citation format used in other academic disciplines.  To do legal research you need to be able to understand a legal citation.  This is how to read a legal citation:

  • Law Name:          Civil Rights Act of 1964           
  • Legal Citation:    78 Stat 241

78 is the volume number; Stat is the abbreviation for United States Statutes at Large, the publication; and 241 is the page number.

This format - volume, abbreviation for the publication, and page number - remains basically the same for all legal materials and it is used to cite law review articles as well as other legal sources.


Legal Research Databases

Nexis Uni is the primary legal research database that is available to WSU faculty, students, and staff.  It provides full text access to a wide range of United States, state, and foreign  legal materials including codes, court opinions, law reviews and legal periodicals, as well as thousands of news sources and company information. An online guide provides a tutorial and other information on searching Nexis Uni.

A Sampling of WSU Legal/Law Journals via the Browzine tool

An interface provided by the company Third Iron, BrowZine allows patrons to browse and stay current with the electronic journals in their academic fields. BrowZine provides multiple entry points to connect with scholarly materials, including: via the BrowZine web and mobile applications and from within Search It. Learn more at

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