Secondary Sources Research Guide

Secondary sources are the first resource that students should look at when they begin researching a new issue.  Secondary sources will save student researchers time and help lead them to the most important primary resources on their topic.

Here are a few helpful tips for getting started with secondary source research:

  1. When in doubt, start with a legal encyclopedia.  They will give you a broad overview of the law without going into all the intricacies that can be overwhelming when you’re just starting your research.
  2. When possible, use a secondary source that’s specific to the jurisdiction in which your case is being heard.  The law discussed will be directly applicable to your case and the primary sources cited to will be from your jurisdiction.  For example, try using Texas Jurisprudence (the legal encyclopedia for Texas) if you are researching a Texas state law issue.
  3. Not sure what secondary sources to use or how to locate them in Westlaw or Lexis?  Check out our Secondary Sources research guide for screenshots of where to locate each type of secondary source in your favorite electronic database.  It includes a page for each of the key secondary sources: Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, Treatises, Journals, ALRs, Restatements, & Practice Aids & Forms.
  4. Ask a librarian where resources might be particularly helpful.  We’re here 8:00am-5:00pm Monday through Friday to help you with all your researching needs.


Author: Alyson Drake

Alyson Drake is the Assistant Director for Public Services and the Director of the Excellence in Legal Research Program at Texas Tech University Law School, where she also teaches courses in Texas Legal Research, and Foreign, Comparative, and International Legal Research and administers the Legal Practice Program's research workshops. She blogs at

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