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Criminal Law in Indian Country Research Guide : Secondary Sources: General Research

This guide is a starting point for research in UNM School of Law's Criminal Law in Indian Country class.

Purpose of Secondary Sources

Secondary sources and finding tools are the most likely place to start your research. Their role is:

  • Identify/refine search terms
  • Obtain an overview of your subject
  • Locate primary and persuasive authorities
  • Refocus your research.

Categories of Resources

Primary authority is the law and is the heart of your analysis.

Secondary sources and finding tools are the most likely place to start your research. Their role is:

  • Identify/refine search terms
  • Obtain an overview of your subject
  • Locate primary and persuasive authorities
  • Refocus your research.

Citators (KeyCite & Shepards) allow you to be sure you are aware of the most current statements of the law and that you know how the primary authority you are relying upon has been subsequently treated.

Searching secondary sources

When searching for books and print resources at UNM:

Use the University's WorldCat catalog!

Search the WorldCat catalog when looking for print or e-books as well as other similar print or electronic resources owned by the Law Library or UNM's University Library system. Click here to access the catalog.

You can also use the WorldCat catalog to see what other libraries outside our University-wide system have on your topic, and if needed request that the UNM Law Library borrow that book on loan for you from another library (free to you as a UNM Law student).

While the catalog can pull up journal articles for you, it isn't a thorough or reliable resource for searching for individual articles. Instead, view the next tab on this page titled Journal Articles; also review the separate UNM Law Research guide on Finding Journal Articles.

Tools for finding articles


This is a starting point for finding journal articles at the UNM Law Library.  It includes sources for finding full-text articles, and non full text articles.  Finding articles without their full-text is a great method to use when needing to quickly review an article quickly for how in depth they discuss a topic, case, concept, person, and/or event; also searching non-full text sources to be more comprehensive in your research. If you have any questions, please contact the Law Library’s reference desk at (505) 277-0935 or at

  1. Full-text versions of articles, using both free and subscription resources
  2. Finding Non full-text articles, when you just need a quick overview, or are doing a more comprehensive search.

To find news and subject-specific, non-law databases:

Use Lexis, Westlaw, and main-campus resources!

›To search for newspaper and magazine articles, the combined news databases on Lexis and Westlaw are your best choices. 
›To find other non-law databases, consult the university-wide list of databases by Subject at for quasi-legal databases “e.g. in “Native American Studies,” “law,” etc.

Types of Secondary Sources

ALRs American Law Reports (ALR) contains in-depth essays on selected common law issues. Provides thorough case law overview. Notes where outcome is fact-sensitive or there is a jurisdiction split. Rarely cited.
Law Review Articles In-depth scholarly articles on developing law. Author provides a thorough review of law to date and recommendation regarding what the law should be. Extensive footnotes make them a gold mine of resources.
Legal Dictionaries Defines legal terms and jargon and cite to a source, usually a judicial opinion. Words & Phrases is a dictionary type field available on WL advanced search. Links to where term is defined by jurisdiction's courts or statutes. Black's Law Dictionary (WL) or Ballentine's Legal Dictionary (LX) are two well regarded general legal dictionaries.
Legal Encyclopedias Corpus Juris Secundum (CJS) and American Jurisprudence 2d (AmJur) provide an introductory level discussion of every topic of law and identifies the seminal primary authority. A good starting point to provide context.
Restatements For the topics covered, provides highly credible, succinct statement of well-settled common law. Links to cases where court has cited to the Restatements.
Treatises Legal summary, tools, advice and direction for real problems. Some are more encyclopedia-like: Proof of Facts (guide to pretrial practice), Causes of Action (assists in preparation of pleadings), Trials (guide through all phases of litigation). Others focus on one topic, often in a technical and highly regulated area, and are very credible. If your professional work is one of these areas, it may be wise to purchase access.

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