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Researching Domestic Violence


Here you will find resources and strategies for researching domestic violence and family  law.  Use the tabs at the top of the page to navigate through finding articles, secondary sources, cases, and more.  Although this guide is tailored to DV issues, the tools presented here are applicable to research in general as it applies to other topics.

Research Tips

Here are a some tips for researching domestic violence and family law issues:

1. There are many keyword combinations within this area of law. Domestic violence is sometimes referred to as interpersonal violence, spousal abuse, marital violence, etc.  It's important to try different keywords to gather the best and most relevant results.

2. In most legal resources online, limiting your search to the subject of "family law" will harvest more relevant results.

3. Once you've found a good article or book, check to see what else that author has written.  Often times experts in the field will write multiple works on a particular theme or subject.

4.  Once you've found a good case, Keycite, Shepardize, and follow key numbers and headings for similar cases.

5, Always follow the footnotes!  You can quickly and easily widen your pool of resources by checking the sources cited in a relevant article or case.

6. There is not always a resource that matches your query exactly.  Often we feel like there must be a precise source out there that will provide the exact answer we are seeking.  This is not always the case.  Sometimes we end up with a different answer than we expected or we have to tailor a wide spectrum of information to come to a single conclusion.

7. Research is an investment of time - You will often feel like you missed something.  The only way to feel confident that you overturned every stone, is to put in the time.

8. Save everything that looks interesting, and save it in one location! The folder features in Westlaw and Lexis are fantastic tools, but it's important to use various resources an ensure that all of the material you collect can easily be retrieved.  Dropbox, Google Drive, or simply making a designated folder on your computer is a great way to keep track.

9. Make your own list of keywords.  It helps to have a brainstorming session before you begin researching to jot down the keywords that are unique to your topic.  For example if you are researching the connection between domestic violence and homicide, there are many terms that could be used.


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Rebecca Valentine

Law Library
Room 102
333 Faunce Corner Road,
Dartmouth, MA 02747
Subjects: Law