Tag Archives: Research Resources

Search for all posts about a particular resource using the search box on the right.

Resource Review: Venn Diagram Searching

by guest author Dan Brackmann

If you’ve ever wanted to see which search term wasn’t working or how your search terms were interacting, HeinOnline’s Venn diagram searching may be just the thing you wanted.  To perform a Venn diagram search, select HeinOnline’s “Advanced Search” option, select “Venn Diagram Search” on the right-side of the search page, and enter the search terms.

HeinOnline's search bar showing advanced search on the bottom and the Venn Diagram search button to the right.

The results display as a Venn diagram showing how the various terms intersect with the number of results shown by the circle’s sizes.  The actual search results are displayed to the right.

Search results for "access to justice" AND "immigrant" AND "critical race theory" displaying a Venn diagram that shows the different search phrases and how they intersect. The results are listed on the right.

Additionally, you can hover over any part of the diagram and the right-side will change to reflect that set’s search results. You can then click the part of the diagram to “lock-in” that particular subset of results.

Search results for "access to justice" AND "immigrant" AND "critical race theory" displaying a Venn diagram that shows the different search phrases and how they intersect. The intersection of "immigrant" and "access to justice" has been selected and those results are displayed on the right.

The Venn diagram is quite useful for identifying unproductive terms as well as visualizing how the terms are interacting.   For more information, see Hein’s video at: https://youtu.be/muxHaj9U14c.



Resource Review: HeinOnline’s New Categories

by guest author Dan Brackmann

Picking up where we left off last year, this issue highlights another change that Hein has made to HeinOnline. Users have always had the ability to use the “topics” Hein assigned to articles included in the database.  Topics could be used to filter a search, perform an advanced search, or to get a better idea of what an article covered.  Topics were also displayed on Author Profile pages to show the areas of the author’s scholarship.  The problem was that the number of topics had grown to over 1,500 and was becoming cumbersome.

An inverse pyramid with the word "categories" on top, the word "subjects" in the middle, and the word "topics" on the bottom.Hein’s answer was to create a hierarchy (shown to the right) so users could “drill down” to topics.  At the top of the hierarchy are five Categories.  The intermediate layer consists of 38 Subjects.  And then, at the bottom, are the 1,500 Topics.  In the Law Journal Library, subjects are now displaying in the search results (shown) and can be clicked to bring up all items in those classifications.

Search result showing both the subject and topic tags which are hyperlinks.

For more information, see Hein’s blog post at: https://home.heinonline.org/blog/2020/12/new-topic-taxonomy-brings-categories-and-subjects-into-the-heinonline-mix/.

NOTE: Hein’s blog shows the new hierarchy in use as after-search filters (“facets”).  As of press time, that feature had been withdrawn for refinement and additional development.  No date for return of this feature could be provided other than to keep an eye on Hein’s blog.




Researching the Wellerman

tiktok logo

TikTok logo

A New Zealand sea shanty with the refrain, “Soon may the Wellerman come to bring us sugar and tea and rum” has become unexpectedly popular on TikTok. https://www.vulture.com/2021/01/tiktok-sea-shanties-explained.html

The term “Wellerman” may refer to a resupply ship operated by an Australian shore-whaling company known as the Weller Brothers. https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/entertainment/2021/01/tiktok-sea-shanty-nz-whaling-song-wellermen.html.

Not knowing whether the specific events of the song have any basis in fact or not, the question arose: has there ever been legal liability for a Wellerman failing to resupply a stranded whaling ship? If that answer proves difficult to pin down, then is it possible to find some historical cases worthy of their own sea shanties?

New Zealand Shore Whaling and the Law

Using the search term “Weller Brothers” on HeinOnline (UofSC login required) reveals two articles by Stuart Anderson:

Harris v. Fitzherbert: Customary Rights of Labour on a Shore Whaling Station, 42 Victoria U. Wellington L. Rev. 639 (2011).

Commercial Law on the Beach: Shore Whaling Litigation in Early Colonial New Zealand – Macfarlane v. Crummer (1845), 41 Victoria U. Wellington L. Rev. 453 (2010).

mountains, a few houses on a grassy plain, a beach

1907 watercolor by Walter Bowring depicting Jillett’s whaling station on Kāpiti Island in 1844

The facts of Macfarlane involve “clothing, tobacco, soap, flour, tea, sugar, calico and more” being delivered to a struggling whaling station. Anderson at 454, emphasis added. Could this delivery of provisions be the basis of the sea shanty, with some facts changed or exaggerated? There may be no way to know, but even assuming it were true, unfortunately Anderson informs us “there are no surviving court papers” from the Macfarlane case. Anderson at 470.

A Case for a Sea Shanty?

Wouldn’t it be great if the next popular sea shanty had a legal citation we could all link to?

The fact sections of many ship collision cases from past centuries somehow seem more poetic than the fact sections of modern automobile collision cases, with notable exceptions such as Fisher v. Lowe, 122 Mich. App. 418, 333 N.W.2d 67 (1983).

HeinOnline (UofSC login required) provides access to the sea-faring example below from English Reports

In re: H.M.S. Swallow, 166 Eng. Rep. 1002 (1856).

The "Leila," coal-laden, was bound to Cadiz; the "Swallow" was proceeding from Milford 
to Portsmouth, for the purpose of taking in her engines. The "Leila," it appeared, was
close hauled on the starboard tack; the "Swallow" was running right before the wind.
The night was foggy, and on the "Leila" descrying the "Swallow," [31] from her starboard
bow, making directly for her, she exhibited a lantern, and a fog-horn was loudly blown.
The light was answered by the "Swallow," and her helm slightly ported. The "Leila" kept
close to the wind until the last moment, when in order to ease the blow, her helm was put
hard a-port, and her head sheets let fly. The "Swallow" in her defence alleged that on
descrying the "Leila" she put her helm hard a-port; that the fog was so thick that the
two vessels could not see each other in time to avoid the collision, which was the result
of inevitable accident.

Hopefully, composers of shanties will consider case law as a potential source of inspiration.

Resource Review: HeinOnline’s New Search Tool

by guest author Dan Brackmann

Happy holidays and end of the semester. W.S. Hein sent us all a gift this year by improving HeinOnline’s searching functions.  Previously, we could search either one or all of their databases. Now, we can pre-filter our searches to as many or as few databases as needed!

To do so, first select the “All Databases” drop-down that now appears on the right of the search bar.  This brings up a list of databases where you can check the ones you want to search.

HeinOnline's search bar with the database selector at the right end of the bar circled.

The list of HeinOnline databases with check boxes to enable pre-search filtering.

Click “Submit,” type your search in the search bar, and voila! You still can refine with post-search filters too.

A sample search in the HeinOnline search bar

For more information and a video, take a look at Hein’s blog post on this new feature at: https://home.heinonline.org/blog/2020/11/its-here-the-heinonline-search-feature-youve-been-waiting-for/

Also see their post on their new Civil Rights and Social Justice database: https://home.heinonline.org/blog/2020/10/new-database-civil-rights-and-social-justice/

Resource Review: HeinOnline’s Electoral College Subcollection

by guest author Dan Brackmann

As the 2020 election hurtles towards us, HeinOnline has released a timely subcollection of Electoral College materials in its U.S. Presidential Library.  The subcollection includes hearings, committee prints, CRS and GAO reports, books, treatises and more on the Electoral College, explaining it, exploring it, and criticizing it throughout its history.

Dropdown menu from HeinOnline showing the U.S. Presidential Library and the Electoral College subcollectionTo access the subcollection, navigate to HeinOnline via the library web page, locate the U.S. Presidential Library in the list, and select the Electoral College subcollection. Browse the materials or use HeinOnline’s advanced search tools to perform targeted searching. (Make sure to select Electoral College as the document type.)

Some examples of the subcollection’s contents include:

  • Congressional hearings from the 91st Congress on constitutional changes to reform the Electoral College.
  • Contemporary analysis and perspectives on a contingent election if no candidate gets enough Electoral College votes.
  • Documents relating to other election issues, including election security and barriers to voting.

The opening menu of the Electoral College subcollection including the advanced search option.

Read more about it at: https://home.heinonline.org/blog/2020/10/new-addition-electoral-college/

Open Access Week 2020 – Part 2

See Part 1 for What is Open Access? and How can Open Access support equity and inclusion? 

How do UofSC Law librarians support Open Access?

There is no shortage of ways in which librarians at UofSC Law (and in many other libraries) support Open Access. Here are two examples:

Open Casebooks 

catalog search: Evidence Best Evidence Rule Miller, Colin author; Open Textbook Library distributor 2012 / Evidence Jury Impeachment Miller, Colin author; Open Textbook Library distributor 2014 / Evidence Rape Shield Rule Miller, Colin author; Open Textbook Library distributor 2014

Three Open Access casebooks by Dean Miller

Despite the high prices of casebooks, most casebook authors are not getting rich from those sales; they typically rely on a salary from other full-time work. Because Open Access textbooks help cash-strapped law students without significantly harming authors, authors are increasingly opting to create Open Access casebooks.

Law librarian Andy Kretschmar notes that there are currently some Open Access casebooks findable in the UofSC Law Library catalog, including three by Dean Colin Miller.

Scholar Commons

screenshot of https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/law/ with world map


Law librarians work with law faculty, law student journal editors, and UofSC librarians to get permissions and upload works to scholarcommons.sc.edu/law. Law faculty can choose to make their articles freely available at scholarcommons.sc.edu/law_facpub, no matter where those articles are published, as long as the faculty have not given up their right to do so. Both the South Carolina Journal of International Law and Business (SCJILB) and the South Carolina Law Review have chosen to make back issues freely available via Scholar Commons, and SCJILB also makes its current issues available.

Approximately 37,000 times per year, articles are downloaded from UofSC Law’s Scholar Commons. The work of the UofSC Law Library (especially Lillian Bates, Dan Brackmann, Melanie Griffin, and Candle Wester) in digitizing back issues from print, obtaining permissions from authors and publishers, and putting articles online in an organized, findable way is making a difference.

Resource Review: HeinOnline, ORCID, & U.S. News Redux

by guest author Dan Brackmann

Emblems for ORCID; William S. Hein, Inc.; and U.S. News and World Report

Most of legal academia has heard by now that U.S. News is going to start publishing scholarly productivity rankings based on data imported from W.S. Hein. Previous editions of this publication have encouraged faculty members to set up HeinOnline Author Profiles and to get (and use) ORCID ID numbers. In the last few months, we have seen announcements that make it worthwhile to re-visit those topics.

ORCID is a unique identifying number for a scholar, basically a scholarship social security number. Associating this number with your scholarship helps ensure that you get credit for it

In August, Hein completed its integration with ORCID. That means Hein data on legal scholarship associated with ORCID IDs is exported to ORCID. It also means that Hein is importing data about an author’s works from ORCID!  This integration provides Hein with more data on non-journal legal scholarship by ORCID ID holders to pass on to U.S. News when the latter pulls data for its scholarly impact rankings.

Hein’s Author Profiles and ORCID were both low-hanging fruit before the integration, but now they are even better for making sure that both you and the law school get credit for your scholarship. The faculty administrative support staff can help you get them set up too.

Here is Hein’s announcement: https://home.heinonline.org/blog/2020/08/phase-ii-complete-orcid-records-appear-in-heinonline/

Here is a Wisconsin Law Blog on the topic in more detail: https://bit.ly/34fESwG


Resource Review: PlumX Metrics Come to Scholar Commons

by guest author Dan Brackmann

Scholar Commons is the University of South Carolina’s digital institutional repository, and many of our faculty have agreed to let us post copies of their scholarship in the law school’s portion of the repository.  Over the summer, a new tool called PlumX was integrated into Scholar Commons. PlumX was developed by Plum Analytics as an aggregation tool for impact metrics that tries to look beyond just citation counts published in journals to measure impact. Below is a snapshot of the PlumX report for our faculty publications page.

The PlumX Snapshot bar showing the five PlumX categories: Usage, Citations, Captures, Mentions, and Social Media

As you can see, among the things that PlumX tries to capture are statistics on how many times repository scholarship is mentioned on social media and if an article is cited by a policy document, both of which are impact measures often overlooked by more conventional impact metrics. PlumX also provides more detailed information for anyone wanting to drill down into the data a bit.

Here is information about PlumX metrics on Scholar Commons: https://bepress.com/reference_guide_dc/measuring-impact-plumx-metrics-digital-commons/

Moreover, authors can gain access to their “author dashboard,” allowing them to access their PlumX (and other) metrics for their articles.  To have an author dashboard you only need to have one article posted in Scholar Commons and linked to your official USC email address.

The vertical icon directory from the Scholar Commons Dashboard highlighting the third option which is the PlumX iconHere is a video telling you more about the Author Dashboard at USC: https://guides.library.sc.edu/scholarcommons/impact.  The video pre-dates PlumX, but to see your PlumX statistics, you only need to select the “plum” icon in the left-hand column as shown in the image to the left.


Find Your Focus with the Law Library

by guest author Melanie Griffin

Finding a focus topic is when law school really gets interesting. No matter where you are in your program or where you’re accessing your classes, UofSC Law Library has a number of ways for you to take a deep dive into specific types of law that catch your attention, require further research, or seem like the path you want to take after graduation.

  • We’ve got a library research guide for that: If the sheer amount of available information about different types of law makes you wonder where to start, check out our list of legal research guides. This lists links to all of the law library’s guides by topic in alphabetical order, and each topic has its own wiki dedicated to introducing a type of law and showcasing relevant materials that will take your understanding to the next level – including official websites you can use now (such as the SC Workers’ Compensation Commission if you’re interested in worker’s comp), UofSC Law Library books you can check out in person, and UofSC Law Library e-books you can use remotely.


  • Find a topical electronic resource: The Law Databases Guide is especially useful for furthering your knowledge whether or not you’re physically in the Law Library. The Topical Legal Research section has all you need to know about specific databases you can access with your UofSC login. If you’re looking to learn more about international law, historical legal research, or legislation, each of these sections will lead you straight to a plethora of information about your chosen topic.


  • Search UofSC law research by topic on Scholar Commons: The Law Library participates in UofSC’s Scholar Commons research repository, which gathers together UofSC research into one free, open-access electronic database. That means you can search research on a number of law subtopics from our own school regardless of whether you have access to their original journal publications. It’s not a complete list since it’s voluntary for professors to submit their work to be added to Scholar Commons, but it’s an easy way to see who may be working on what without having to go a million different places or running into paywalls.


  • Ask a reference librarian: Our reference librarians can help you with your research and find further materials on any legal topic that catches your interest. Send us an email at lawref@law.sc.edu or use our Law Library Chat system to get in touch Mondays – Fridays, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.


  • Get in touch with Career Services: You can still get plenty of great advice from our Career Services professionals through their remote access. They’ll talk with you about the number of different ways you can focus your work and the realistic ways your choices may guide your life after law school.

Resource Review: The (New) Library Catalog

by guest author Dan Brackmann

Recently we, along with a very large chunk of the other colleges and universities in South Carolina, made a major switch in the software that we use to manage and search our library holdings. You may think of it as our “catalog program.” This software includes a lot of new features and quirks, so this issue will be dedicated to highlighting some of them.

screenshot of Advanced Search view of the catalog (image is linked to the page shown)

Things to note include:

  • Always sign-in using your university login credentials and the light blue link in the upper-right corner. Signing-in allows you to request items (including from partner libraries), save searches, and more easily access electronic resources.


  • Search filters appear in a column to the left of results. The filter under Availability called “Held by Library” filters to show you only items in our print collection.


  • Unless you know the Library of Congress subject heading for your topic, browsing by subject is best done through the “New Search” tab in the top ribbon using keywords. Author and title browsing can be done through the “Browse” tab.


  • “UofSC Databases” in the top row of tabs means the databases supplied by the main campus library. Law Library-supplied databases are under “Law Databases.”


  • Boolean search operators must be placed in all-caps.

If you have any trouble with the new catalog, please reach out to our reference librarians for assistance. You can reach us at lawref@law.sc.edu, M-F 9AM-5PM.

If you have ideas for future Resource Reviews, please email Dan Brackmann.