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POLS 105G: American Constitutional Law: Databases & Periodicals

This guide will help you find information about the United States Constitution and its amendments, including primary sources.

EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) -- The Super Database!

EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) is the most powerful database at the Library, allowing you to search many smaller databases all at once. Search results include:

  • Articles from journals, magazines, and newspapers;
  • Descriptions of materials in the Library's collection, such as books and DVDs;
  • Links to online resources like e-books and streaming videos.

Be sure to click the box labeled "Limit to Full Text" in order to find the entire content of articles.

Using Library Databases From Off-Campus

To log into a database from off-campus, click on the database link, then type the same user name and password that you use to open your "Student Workday" account. Once you have logged in, you will be able to navigate to other Library databases without having to type your password again during that searching session.

Finding Periodicals by Title

If you're interested in a particular journal or magazine, and want to find the Library database where it's located, use the Publication Finder. This online tool allows you to search by title or subject, and will show you which database contains full-text coverage of each periodical.

For example, if you search for Constitutional Commentary, the directory will show you that the Academic Search Elite module of the EBSCOhost database contains full-text articles from this publication, covering 1996 to the present. You can then link to the database to search for topics within the back issues of this magazine.

Databases for Researching Constitutional Law Topics

The Library databases listed below are recommended for researching the legal aspects of a variety of topics. Depending upon the perspective you wish to take when writing about an issue, you may want to look for historical information, current news articles, or a combination of both. These descriptions of the databases will help you decide where to begin searching.

CQ Researcher -- Provides full-text articles about controversial topics, both current and historical, in a wide variety of subject areas. Materials are dated from 1923 to the present. To read explanations of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, select the tab labeled “Browse Topics” and look for the category “U.S. Supreme Court & Judicial System.”

EBSCOhost -- Use this general subject database to find articles on a variety of topics from journals, magazines, newspapers and other reference sources. Most articles are available in full text. EBSCOhost is a good choice if you're looking for news articles about recent events. The "Newspaper Source" and "Regional Business News" modules include local news coverage of locations across the country.

Gale EBOOKS -- This collection of electronic books includes the Gale Encyclopedia of American Law and the Gale Encyclopedia of Everyday Law, among many others. This database is very helpful for finding historical information.

Gale in Context: Opposing Viewpoints -- This database presents different perspectives on a variety of controversial issues. Resources include magazine, journal and newspaper articles, video and audio news clips, and chapters from the Opposing Viewpoints book series. Use this database if you're writing an argumentative or persuasive paper (or speech), and would like to find information in a "pro and con" format.

Gale in Context: U.S. History -- This database covers themes, events, and people from U.S. history. Resources include full-text articles, maps and images, and many primary source documents. To locate discussions of famous U.S. Supreme Court decisions, find the box labeled "Court Cases & the Supreme Court" and select the "Topics: View All" option from the drop-down menu.

Issues & Controversies (a module of the Facts on File database) -- Select the topics listed under "Crime, Law & Judicial System" to find "pro and con" essays about the different sides of legal issues. After selecting an essay, click the "Court Cases" link to see a list of legal decisions related to this topic. 

ProQuest Central -- Use this general subject database to find articles on a variety of topics from journals, magazines and newspapers. Most articles are available in full text. If you want to find articles from a specific magazine or journal, ProQuest is the best place to start. Select the "Publications" search option to locate the magazine or journal, then use the "Search Within This Publication" box to find articles about your topic.

Salem History -- This searchable collection of electronic books provides access to primary source documents from American history, arranged by time period and topic.

Westlaw -- This database, designed for attorneys and paralegals, provides access to statutes, case law material, and other legal resources, including the U.S. Code, U.S. Supreme Court decisions, and Purdon's Pennsylvania Statutes. To find articles from scholarly law journals, click the link to "Secondary Sources" on the home page. On the next screen, choose "Law Reviews & Journals," then type your topic into the search box.

NEW Research Tool in Westlaw!

The Westlaw database has compiled a new collection of legal documents related to Civil Rights. Here is where to find it:

The documents cover topics such as police misconduct, malicious prosecution, the First Amendment right to protest, and voting rights.

Do I really need to use Westlaw?

If your instructor has recommended that you use the Westlaw database, you should use it. However, it should not be the only database that you try.

There are many authoritative, scholarly sources, as well as primary source documents, available on the Library's other databases, which you may find easier to use than Westlaw. For help in deciding which database to search, look at the description of each one in the center column of this screen.

If you choose to use Westlaw, and need help finding your way through the database, look at the training materials available on the Paralegal Studies Research Guide. You'll find handouts, PowerPoint slides and videos there that explain how Westlaw works.

Of course, the best way to get help is to ask a Librarian! Go to the Library's home page and click the orange "Ask the Librarian" button to chat with us!