Starting Wednesday, January 27th from 11a.m.-1:15p.m., you can come by the Creative Commons (1st floor west side Law Library) and make your own FREE peanut butter and jelly sandwich and see a quick demo!
This week we will help you find out how to contact a Reference Librarian when you have questions! Alyson Drake, our new Student Services Librarian will be there as well.
We will have this program every other Wednesday during the spring semester!
Whether you’re a master wordsmith with a hundred publications or a struggling student who has trouble keeping the active and passive voices straight, you will at some point find yourself either struggling with how to properly structure a sentence, use a word, or drop in punctuation. For those times, it’s a good idea to have a reference guide of some sort. With the new semester starting, students will soon be writing memos, briefs, and seminar papers, and faculty will be diving into the spring submission season, so getting a good reference guide is fairly timely.
First off, getting a copy of The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. is not a bad place to start, though it’s not a cure-all. The original text, published in 1918, is considered the authoritative statement on English usage, even if there has been resistance to it in recent years. There have also been updates to it over the last century. The most well-known version is the “Updated and Expanded” edition written by E.B. White, the author of Charlotte’s Web and other stories, which is commercially available through a number of sources (and in its 5th edition). However, the original Strunk text is public domain and available freely on the web in a number of locations. John W. Cowan, a computer programmer who codifies the syntax of programming languages, maintains an updated version of Strunk’s text on his website.
Moving on from The Elements of Style, there are hundreds of guides, publications, tip sheets, and so on with writing, grammar, punctuation, and style advice. I can’t possibly review all of them here, as each writer has their own needs. Instead, let’s assess your needs with the following questions:
- What is your general proficiency level? If you are a highly proficient writer, you’re probably good just picking up a fairly mechanical reference book (for academic writers, your fields’ publication manual may be sufficient). If you’re moderately proficient, you’ll want something that’s thorough, but written for more advanced writers. If you struggle at the basic level, consider some of the books written by the test prep companies, as they have exercises and tips targeted towards struggling writers.
- What do you struggle with? If you’re struggling at the sentence level (grammar, punctuation), then you’ll want to focus on guides on proper usage. Punctuation and grammar handbooks abound, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble. If you struggle with putting sentences together into paragraphs or sets of paragraphs, you’ll want to find a guide that helps with broader organization and composition. If you write technically sound compositions that fail to be persuasive or impactful, then you may want to consider guides on rhetoric.
- What are you trying to write? If you’re struggling at the most basic level, then this question should wait until you’re more comfortable with the ins and outs of general composition. For those who are more advanced, however, this can be a big question. The practices for journalism, fiction writing, and legal writing can be quite different, so you may want to consider a style guide appropriate to what you’re trying to write. For legal writing, there are three books you may want to consider:
- The Redbook, by Bryan A. Garner — This style guide for legal documents contains extensive guides on usage, grammar, punctuation, style, and formatting, and also includes the specifics on a number of document formats. Currently in its 3d Edition, published by West (978-0-314-28901-8)
- Academic Legal Writing, by Eugene Volokh — This guide is a little more advanced, and is geared towards those writing seminar papers, law review articles, and other works of scholarship. It’s relatively cheap (around $30 on most online retailers), and has advice from the word-level to the rhetorical-level, as well as tips for finding topics and getting on law review. Currently in its 4th Edition, published by Foundation Press (978-1-59941-750-9)
- Making Your Case, by Bryan A. Garner and Antonin Scalia — This book is about argumentation, and specifically about the forms of argumentation in the process of a legal case. If you’re fine with the general mechanics of writing, but are having difficulty being persuasive, this is probably a good place to start. Published by Thomson West (978-0-314-18471-9)
Have questions? Feel free to contact me or the Office of Academic Success and we’d be happy to help!
If your professor requires the Scholarly Writing Series as part of your course, please use the following instructions to successfully complete the series.
1. Login to WestlawNext and click on the link to TWEN:
2. Once in TWEN, click Add Course:
3. Add Texas Tech University School of Law’s Scholarly Writing Series:
4. Once added, go to the course and read the Instructions for Students:
5. Complete the lectures and quizzes and turn in the information to your professor!
*note if you do not print quiz results and turn them into your professor, your professor will not know that you completed the series.
Welcome back everyone! We hope you had a wonderful and relaxing break, but now it’s time to get down to business again! If you find that you need some extra help in a certain subject, the library has you covered. With our extensive study aid collection, you’re sure to find something that will fit your learning style. Some of the study aids are also available online for added convenience! (Check out Sue Kelleher’s post on study aids for additional information.) Come on by the library and see what we have to offer!
Regulatory Insight is a companion database to Legislative Insight, providing researchers with a platform to facilitate research into U.S. federal administrative law histories from 1936-2015.
- Access to all notices, proposed rules, and final rules;
- Results that include all regulatory histories associated with a specific C.F.R. portion or U.S. Code citation; and
- A compilation of Federal Register “articles” with a direct legal basis in that Public Law.
Access to ProQuest’s Regulatory Insight database is available through the Texas Tech Law Library website under the Electronic Databases tab.
Law Faculty – please join the Law Library next Thursday, January 21 from 12pm-1pm in the Faculty Conference Room for LUNCH as we welcome you all back for a wonderful spring 2016 semester!!
In addition, mark your calendars for the rest of the Law Library’s spring 2016 Faculty Research Series focusing on Blackboard training.
Are you planning to use Blackboard this fall? If so, you should ask yourself the following questions:
1. Did I request my live Blackboard course shell for fall 2016? If not, please go here for more information and to request your live shell.
*note if you did not request your live Blackboard shell and you see the course listed under your Blackboard courses, it is likely a development shell. You still need to request a the live shell to populate with your enrolled student
2. Do I want my students to see my Blackboard course immediately? If yes, please follow these instructions in your live Blackboard course to make your course available immediately:
1. From the Control Panel, click on Customization
2. Click on Properties
3. Set Availability to YES & Select Dates for Course Duration
4. Click Submit
*note the default for course availability is the first day of classes.
3. Have I been working in a development shell, and do I need to copy content from my development shell to my live shell? Or do I want to copy course content from a previous Blackboard live shell? If yes, please click here and follow the instructions.
For additional help, view TTU’s Blackboard instructor support page.