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Basic & Background Sources for International & Foreign Legal Research: Introduction

Where to Start

When researching international and foreign law, there are some basic sources that you will use frequently and should get to know. Basic tools or background sources provide a variety of information that may be needed before delving too deeply into a research topic. You may need to:

  • find a research guide on your subject, country or international organization
  • locate the meaning of abbreviations or acronyms
  • define basic international concepts or terms (study aids, dictionaries or encyclopedias)
  • find basic background information about an international organization, a subject, or a specific country (dictionaries, encyclopedias, directories)
  • locate relevant websites (research guides or encyclopedias)
  • locate secondary sources (journal articles, treatises) on the topic (research guides and bibliographies)

This short guide highlights some of the international and foreign legal sources that provide these kinds of information. It is by no means a complete list of essential tools, so you are encouraged to examine these sources yourself and determine which ones are most useful for each research question. Linked sources may lead to an electronic version of the tool or the record for the item from LawCat.

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