All Our Research Tips
I read novels more than once, which is a family trait in my household. We also watch television programs and movies more than once. There have been instances of multiple format consumption as well – I like the text version of To Kill a Mockingbird a whole lot more than the audiobook and movie.
We recently acquired a new LED HDTV with blah blah blah (options that make it provide remarkably clear, disturbingly life-like, images). The features are not important, but the takeaway illustrates something useful: a new method of viewing or using something may make it worth the time investment to revisit it.
An example, you have read a particular text that is now part of an online service, revisiting the content using a new format may cause you to see the content that you think you know differently. The consumption experience can change the way you remember the content consumed.
We have been watching Episodes I – VI of Star Wars on our new TV. Though this is the third or fourth time through revisiting this content, I am seeing (learning) new information that I have not noticed in the past.
I get by with a little help from my friends – so say the Beatles, and I agree.
I was happy to see that help from my friends on New CanLII has been facilitated with CanLII Forums. Check out Feedback on the new CanLII and Évaluations du nouveau CanLII.
The folks at CanLII know:
I want somebody to love
New CanLII and Your Browser
Like the best programmed websites, the newly launched CanLII works well on mobile devices and in a wide variety of browsers, Chrome, FireFox, Safari, and Internet Explorer.
One thing to note for Internet Explorer (version 9) users is the IE Compatibilitiy View. If you are having difficulties with a research website, try turning off Compatibility View (in IE under Tools on the menu).
Some sites require Compatibility View to be “on”. It is worthwhile knowing that this function is available and to select or de-select it as needed.
Watch for Moving Targets
Building on last week’s tip about managing current awareness, today’s tip is about watching for source changes. A whine at my research blog shared a recent experience with the change of an RSS feed address. If you are monitoring information using automation to help, make sure you pay attention to when information should appear.
If you are considering watching Government of Canada news releases with RSS feeds, here is a handy list.
Add Current Awareness Reminders to Your Calendar
One of the really important aspects of lawyering is to have the right information at the right time for your clients. Sometimes this means watching a resource that has a regular publication schedule like the Canada Gazette Part II (the source of new federal regulations and proclamations). Canada Gazette Part II is published every second Wednesday. My Recurrence dialogue box for a “Check Gazette Part II” Outlook appointment looks like this:
A one minute appointment every two weeks scheduled to not block a time when others may wish to schedule meetings with me. The body of the appointment has a link to the latest issue of Canada Gazette Part II. Happiness is not missing out on potentially important information.
An added benefit is the ability to invite a colleague to your appointment to make it a “meeting” – works great for short term assignments for vacation coverage!
Think About the Reader
I have had the benefit of working on a writing project with others from my firm recently. One of the key things that I have learned from this is that writers, especially if the work is intended to convince others to act, must put themselves in the shoes of the reader.
The next time you are reviewing a research memo, opinion letter, brief, or argument (or even an email), try to review your work as if you were a member of the intended audience.
This type of review is harder to practice than it sounds. It is especially hard to do when you have just finished the gathering stage of a research project. All of the information that you took in while you were researching makes it difficult to assume the mantle of the fresh eyed reader. It is also difficult to ‘be’ your audience if you don’t ‘know’ your audience.
This is one of those tips where I ask for comments … advice anyone?
Watch for New Ways to View Information
Hat Tip to David Whelan via a tweet that led me to LawAtlas:
LawAtlasSM is a gateway to key laws aimed at improving our health or access to health care. Visitors can use the Interactive Law Maps pages to generate maps and tables highlighting selected features of the law as it exists today or has changed over time.
Though the interactive law maps are only for the USA, the principle of looking a law in a visual way is worthy of a research tip.
Cheat for Remembering Research Passwords
I don’t know about you, but I have a zillion (only a slight exaggeration) passwords. There have been some great tips on the technology side of this blog and at Slaw.ca for using password generators and technology assisted password management.
Today’s Tip: use the same userid and password formula for both Westlaw and Quicklaw. It is not your banking information [don't use your banking password for anything else], you aren’t going to change it frequently, and if you do change one, change both. Keep it simple
As a side, I keep a private Outlook contact with my research and social media login and passwords – not the actual passwords but a reminder of the formula I used to create them. The contact is not labeled “passwords”, but it is available on my desktop and my connected to the office mobile devices for those moments when I have a brain blank.
Data From Published Survey Results
Survey results are converging in my world as useful sources of information. In looking at some information for an upcoming presentation, Google informed me about some published surveys that contained excellent background information. For an example of survey results that you might find interesting, check out Green Target’s 2012 In-House Counsel New Media Engagement Survey.
Survey data can tell you what people in groups think or believe. Survey results can be qualitative or quantitative. Survey results can help to illustrate themes. Survey data can provide a benchmark.
Survey questions can give you ideas as well. The Canadian Association of Law Libraraies/L’Association canadienne des bibliothèques de droit (CALL/ACBD) periodically carries out a salary survey of law library staff working in Canada. Non-members of CALL/ACBD are encouraged to complete the survey. If you are working in a law library in Canada you are welcome to complete the survey. Any information you provide is confidential and your personal information cannot be identified.
Update Legislation on Your Mobile Device
A couple of years ago I shared a tip for putting the Rules of Court on a mobile device. A couple of days ago there was a notice about an amendment to the Alberta Rules of Court – the rules linked in the example post.
Thanks to persistent URLs, the links in my 2011 post are still relevant. Because adding content to mobile devices is usually managed by an individual, I am using Today’s Tip to remind you that legislation (including Rules – which are really regulations) changes.
Archive or delete that old copy and update the legislation on your mobile device.