When you find an article that may be useful for your assignment, do not start by reading the entire article from start to finish! Follow these steps:
1. Start at the top - read the abstract or skim the introduction if there is no abstract. This will summarize the article and key findings.
2. Move to the end - read the conclusion of the article. The authors will summarize the findings and weigh the impact on the topic.
3. Determine if the article is relevant to your topic, and how it relates to your other sources. If it is still appropriate, be sure to download the PDF and save the citation.
- What is the author's position or argument? How does that relate to my argument?
- What other articles, cases, opinions does the author use to support their argument?
Decoding a Case Citation
A case citation usually consists of the following items:
For example, the citation Florida v. Royer 460 U.S. 491 (1983) means that the case of Florida v. Royer was published in volume 460 of United States Reports on page 491. The case decision was issued in 1983, as noted in the parentheses.
It's important to note when the same case is printed in different book series (i.e. reporters), more than one citation may be given. These additional citations are known as parallel citations.
Example: 460 U.S. 491, 103 S.Ct. 1319, 75 L.Ed.2d 229.
In the above example, there are three parallel citations to the same case:
The text of the opinion will be identical in all three sources. Any additional commentary or editorial material will differ with each publisher.
Typically, ANY one of these parallel citations may be used to locate a case within the LexisNexis database.
Reading Cases, scholarly articles, and understanding legal citations may be daunting at first, but these resources can help get you started.