By James Hart
Starting from this October, the FCIL Electronic Research Interest Group will publish its reviews of popular and new FCIL sources in a series titled “Resource Reviews” for the FCIL Newsletter. The series, at its first installment, will feature five popular sources and two relatively new sources. The popular sources are:
- The Foreign Law Guide
- The United Nations Treaty Collection
- HeinOnline’s World Constitutions Illustrated
- HeinOnline’s World Treaty Library
The two relatively new sources are:
- Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals Case Law Database
- The Peace Palace Library, The Hague, Netherlands
This is an entirely new project. Its purpose is to promote some of the most authoritative, highly regarded, and comprehensive tools in foreign, comparative, and international legal research. As a continuing project, we also hope to explore and evaluate new resources as they come to our attention.
Each review is individually authored and the opinions expressed in the review are the author’s own. The reviews are intended for both FCIL and general law librarians. They give information that is particularly important to professional users.
Different librarians will have varying ideas of what tools belong in the current list. Indeed the Electronic Research Interest Group discussed a large number of excellent tools. Many shared comparable characteristics; some had incomparable characteristics; and some had a mixture. If your favorite tool is not here, it is not a reflection on that tool. The discussion resulted in substantial agreement on the choices that we have made and on a list of seven characteristics that we could use to ensure the consistency of our reviews, including:
- How well-known is the source?
- How accessible is it?
- How authoritative is it?
- How comprehensive is it, in terms of its contents?
- How easy-to-use (user-friendly) is it?
- How useful is it in terms of its ability to answer both common and rare (difficult-to-find) questions?
- How current (up-to-date) is it?
The characteristics are broad enough to apply to different types of tools. But they serve their purpose. Please feel free to share your comments with us concerning either our choices or our list of characteristics. You can send your comments to Sherry Xin Chen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our definition of “new” is approximately two years old at most. This definition is general and flexible. We will interpret it in relation to the broad field of FCIL research. New tools after all do not pop up in FCIL research on a daily basis. Although we have only two “new” tools now, we will expand this category in the future.
Finally let me give credit to those who made this project happen:
Sherry Xin Chen