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  • InsideTrack
  • December 02, 2020

    Legal Research: What’s New with HeinOnline?

    Launched in 2000, HeinOnline is now the world's largest image-based legal research database. Wisconsin State Law Librarian Amy Crowder discusses what's new, gives a tour of some of its collections, and outlines where to find tips for using the database.

    Amy Crowder

    digital library

    Dec. 2, 2020 – HeinOnline is like having an entire library of journals, statutes, extensive federal and state case law, government documents, and more, available in one place, anywhere you are.

    After decades of publishing and distributing primary law and secondary sources in print and microfiche, William S. Hein & Co., Inc., launched HeinOnline 20 years ago. Since then, it has grown to be the world’s largest image-based legal research database.

    More than 2,800 Journals

    HeinOnline is likely best known for its substantial collection of full-text journals within its law journal library.

    It contains over 2,800 law and law-related periodicals. All journals date back to inception, and more than 90 percent of the titles are available through the most current issue. Embargoed issues are indexed, allowing you to discover content and possibly locate through other sources, such as the Wisconsin State Law Library. All journals are available as PDF images, and appear as they did in print.

    Using the Law Journal Library

    To search the law journal library, use HeinOnline’s main navigation bar, or select the law journal library link to limit your results to that collection. Use the collection’s search tool to search across all law journals. Facets to the left of your results will help narrow your search. You can also browse by title, state of publication, or subject.

    Amy CrowderAmy Crowder is state law librarian with the Wisconsin State Law Library, and is celebrating 26 years working at the library. She is a member of the Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin (LLAW), whose members regularly contribute to InsideTrack.

    If you have a Bluebook citation, select the citation tab and the link to the Citation Navigator. Enter your search, and the article appears. If you are unsure of the title’s abbreviation, use the Find Bluebook Citation tool and select the title within the index. Simply enter the volume and page number to access the article.

    The ScholarCheck tool shows you how often an article has been cited and accessed by other HeinOnline users during a rolling 12-month period. It shows the cumulative number of times an author has been cited. ScholarCheck also lets you easily access other linked sources within the HeinOnline database.

    In addition to its law journal library, HeinOnline provides so much more.

    Recent Additions to HeinOnline

    Twenty years after its launch, new content is continually being added to HeinOnline. Here are a few.

    The Civil Rights and Social Justice Database recently debuted, and brings together a diverse offering of publications covering civil rights in the U.S. It includes documents from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, reports from the Congressional Research Service (CRS), nearly 1,000 congressional committee hearings, legislative histories of federal civil rights law, and almost 200 briefs from major U.S. Supreme Court cases.

    State Constitutions Illustrated is a collection of nearly 10,000 documents, including current and historic constitutions that have been in force for all 50 states. It contains an extensive collection of related documents and primary sources, with many illuminating the development of the territory prior to statehood.

    Hein recently completed a massive update to an already popular section of the database, Criminal Justice & Criminology, adding more than 2 million pages of new content. The section contains hearings, Department of Justice (DOJ) publications, Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports, and over 100 periodicals on the subject. Rare pamphlets, memoirs, and books are available, with some written by “ordinary law enforcement officers and not-so-famous criminals,” as described. The collection shows how criminal justice has changed in American and English law.

    The American Indian Law Collection now contains an extensive list of 418 Native American treaties, 416 with full-text coverage. A new treaty search tool lets you search treaties by keyword, treaty number, tribe, short title, description, and date. The collection contains an expansive archive of treaties, federal statutes and regulations, federal case law, tribal codes, and constitutions. Rare compilations edited by renowned federal Indian law scholar Felix S. Cohen – never previously available online – are now accessible.

    A new subcollection within the U.S. Presidential Library provides resources on how the Electoral College system works, the history of its formation, debates, and efforts to reform or abolish it. The collection brings together hearings, committee prints, CRS and GAO reports, and includes documents related to other election issues such as security and barriers to voting.

    Hein continues its project to make the U.S. Congressional Serial Set and American State Papers available. On average, more than a quarter million pages are added each month to the collection. It now contains the complete indexing of the more than 17,000 volumes, including the entire set of American State Papers, and complete coverage from 1978 to present. A new citation lookup tool makes it easier to find specific documents.

    Hein also debuted a new monthly blog series, Secrets of the Serial Set, focusing on hidden historic gems within the collection. Check out the entry on the Defense Production Act, currently relevant because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    TheAmerican Law Institute Library is a collection of the Institute’s projects and documents that have influenced modern law, including Restatements & Principles of the Law. The collection contains current and historical Restatements and case citations.

    Preliminary and council drafts are included six months after the completion of the project. Easily locate specific sections using the Restatement Section Locator. Select the category from the drop-down menu and enter the section in the search box provided.

    Fastcase and HeinOnline

    HeinOnline partners with Fastcase to provide seamless access to a wide-array of caselaw at the federal and state levels through inline hyperlinks within journal articles and other documents. One click opens the case in a new browser window. Remember, access to Fastcase is a free member benefit for State Bar members.

    The extensive law review collection of HeinOnline is also integrated into Fastcase. While searching, in addition to primary law, suggested results to articles within HeinOnline will appear in a collapsible sidebar. Fastcase hand tags each journal with the states they believe it primarily covers. If you are searching Wisconsin case law in Fastcase, you will see relevant results from journals like Wisconsin Law Review, for instance.

    Search Tips for HeinOnline

    A great place to start is the HeinOnline Knowledge Base, which offers a number of training guides and videos to help you refine your search strategies and make full use of the database’s robust features. The page includes a link to the document Getting Started in HeinOnline.

    Also, check out Tips Every Researcher Should Know, which explains how to quickly access articles and documents by citation and how to analyze the most-cited articles, authors, and journals using ScholarCheck. Other guides offer targeted tips for specific collections within the database, including those mentioned in this article.

    The HeinOnline Blog is a great way to discover research tips and tricks, and to expand your knowledge of a variety of disciplines. Members of the HeinOnline team regularly post a Tip of the Week and other informative updates. Check out this discussion of a new feature that allows you to choose which particular databases you want to search.

    Accessing This Research Tool

    HeinOnline is accessible to Wisconsin State Law Library card holders, with some restrictions. Complete a library card application on the library’s website to gain access to HeinOnline, then visit the library’s Welcome page for a link to HeinOnline. There is also a log-in button on the library’s articles and journals page.

    For more information or assistance, be sure to contact one of our reference librarians.




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