UPDATE: Intute: Law – the What? Why? How? Where? and Who?
By Steve Whittle
Steve Whittle is the Information Systems Manager at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London. He is web editor for the IALS web site and helped to develop a number of UK national online services for law on the IALS site including Eagle-i Internet Portal for Law, FLAG, the Foreign Law Guide, Flare Index to Treaties and IALS SKiLLS (Source + know-how in Legal Literacy Skills) web database. He has also been project manager for IALS participation in the UK’s Intute service and the joint System Manager of the University of London Research Library Services’ Innovative Millennium Library management system. He has written for a number of journals including: Amicus Curiae, Directions in Legal Education (UKCLE Newsletter), GlobaLex, International Journal of Legal Information, JILT Journal of Information Law and Technology, Legal Information Management, and LLRX. He authored the 2009 edition and 2011 update of the Internet for Law online interactive tutorial for the UK’s Virtual Training Suite. In 2010 he received the Wallace Breem award from the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL).
Published October 2011
See the Archive Version
Although Intute is still accessible on the Web, the service effectively closed in July 2011 following the withdrawal of funding by JISC (the Joint Information Systems Committee of the Higher Education Funding Council in the UK). No new records, updates or maintenance is being carried out on the Intute Internet resource catalogue. See Intute FAQ for more information on the loss of funding.
Work at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) , School of Advanced Study, University of London in 2011 has developed the Eagle-i Internet Portal for Law as a successor service, rescuing the evaluative Intute: Law records (originally created by IALS staff) and offering a new Internet resource database, updated to give rapid and reliable access to the best of the Web for law. Through Eagle-i the Institute aims to continue to provide a quality-driven online service for legal researchers.
Since the advent of the Web, IALS has been actively involved in selecting, evaluating and linking to free law resources on the Internet, identifying and providing descriptive records of sites capable of supporting scholarly and professional work. Eagle-i is a free to use dedicated portal to high-quality legal information sources on the Web. Coverage includes UK, European, Foreign, Comparative and International law.
The Virtual Training Suitecomponent of the Intute service, a series of free subject-focused interactive Internet research skills tutorials, is continuing thanks to an agreement between the original developers at the University of Bristol and TutorPro Ltd. a firm well-experienced in developing authoring tools, learning and content management systems and courseware.
Internet for Law, the interactive legal Internet research skills tutorial edited and updated by Steven Whittle at IALS, will continue to be available on the Web at: http://www.vtstutorials.co.uk/tutorial/law. TutorPro intend to develop mobile versions of the tutorials for delivery across smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices.
An archive copy of Internet for Law 2009 edition with updates to January 2011 is available from JORUM.
This paper describes Intute: Law, part of the UK’s national Internet service, providing access to the best of the web for law through an Internet resource catalogue of international scope and relevance, specialist site evaluation and interactive online training resources. The paper looks at the What, Why, How, Where and Who of Intute and aims to answer the questions: What is Intute: Law? Why has it been developed? How does it work? How can you use it? Where is it going? and Who is involved in its development?
Table of Contents
Intute: Law is the UK’s new free dedicated gateway to high quality legal information sources on the Internet. The service was launched in July 2006 as part of the wider multi-disciplinary Internet discovery service called Intute. The name ‘Intute’ is an amalgam of ‘Internet’ and ‘tutorial’ and is intended to convey that the new service focuses on both guided learning and online resource discovery, as reflected in its key components - the Internet resource catalogues and virtual training materials.
Although Intute: Law is new, it builds very much on the collaborative work of the well-established SOSIG Law Gateway developed by the UK’s earlier Resource Discovery Network initiative.[] Intute aims to support research at higher education levels but also serves further education, continuing learning programs and has a public service role. The service offers new functionality and additional features with a continued emphasis on providing ready access to the best of many free Internet-based resources, helping academics and professionals identify the most appropriate materials on the web to support their research and study work.
Intute is structured around four broad subject groups called – “Intute: Science and Technology”, “Intute: Arts and Humanities”, “Intute: Social Sciences”, and “Intute: Health and Life Sciences”. The services share a unified database and similar search interfaces, giving access to more than 116,000 carefully selected websites described in evaluative catalogue records by subject specialist editors. The subject groups are distinguished by color coded designs. The green section identifies the Intute: Social Sciences subject group which contains the Intute: Law gateway, allowing the service to set law within an important socio-legal context. The Internet catalogues for each subject centre maintain independent metadata and detailed intelligence about each resource selected for inclusion.
Intute: Law is designed specifically with legal people in mind, aiming to help law students, law teachers, researchers and the legal profession with their studies, research, teaching and current awareness needs. It provides a framework for handling legal research needs can help identify and locate sources and then facilitate evaluation of appropriate sources. It offers features to help locate core legal materials, to browse for similar and related materials and to keep up-to-date with new additions and innovations, including current awareness facilities, personalization options, and training materials. Intute: Law aims to make it easier for researchers to find useful sites for a full range of legal subject areas and jurisdictions world wide.
Intute: Law provides an Internet catalogue of quality-checked law related web resources, utilizing a structured web database to present detailed site profiles, content assessments and well-maintained dynamic links to sites publishing primary materials (stating the law) and secondary materials (commenting on law) that are the substance of legal research.
Intute: Law aims to provide insight into key web resources, guiding researchers to reliable sites and materials, to authoritative sources providing content of timely and historic significance. Attention has been given to high quality resources covering:
- UK, foreign, comparative and international law
- Primary legal documents (legislation, law reports and treaties);
- Governmental bodies (including law reform commissions) and web sources of government documents, research reports and consultation papers;
- Professional organisations (such as bar councils, law societies);
- Regulatory bodies (publishing codes of practice, standards and rules);
- Online journals and texts;
- Current legal news;
- Companies (including solicitors' and barristers' sites);
- Legal publishers websites and online databases;
- Learning and teaching resources (including educational materials, course outlines and bibliographies).
- Research Centres and Projects - websites explaining the work of academic departments or research projects, in some cases publishing the products of their research. Site profiles on Intute are designed to uncover and increase access to such material.
The content of Intute: Law is developed through careful selection and evaluation by subject specialist editors at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London and at the University of Bristol. Emphasis is on materials that are freely available. There are some key subscription sites in the catalogue but the aim is to identify the really good free material that aids effective Internet research. Each catalogue record contains a description or brief site profile, a distinguishing feature of Intute. The service is in continual development with regular maintenance of links and record reviews as well as ongoing content building.
The training components of Intute are designed to promote and support Internet and information literacy skills, offering ideas and materials to take away from the service and use in developing users’ own skills and materials. The service also provides personalization features and current awareness alerts, including subject-specific news, courses and events listings.
Researchers have access to an ever-increasing amount of material on the Internet. The web has become a rich and preferred first source of legal information with the global expansion in both electronic publication and public service publication offering users an ever-wider range of legal materials and law-related resources.
The last ten years, which might be considered as “the first Internet decade”, have witnessed an enormous expansion in available information, so there are more legal information resources than ever on the web many of which are freely available for public use. Governments, courts, universities, law firms and publishers continue to raise the level of coverage in the public domain.
For example, the innovative Australasian Legal Information Institute AustLII and the other “LII family” initiatives such as BAILII, AsianLII, CanLII, CommonLII, Droit Francophone, HKLII, PacLII, SAFLII, WorldLII and Cornell's Legal Information Institute share an inspirational commitment to public service publication of primary legal materials freely on the Internet and have contributed enormously to the expansion of web-based sources.
The ascent of web technologies offers convenient desktop access and freedom from restrictions of physical location or library opening hours, so users prefer to try the Internet first, resorting to hard copy sources only in the absence of a reliable electronic alternative.
Arguably the web comprises so many diverse materials – derived from both scholarly sites and the open web, that users face the dangers of information overload amidst a potentially confusing array of sources. Researchers are now working with a mix of clearly established sources (books, journals, official publications, and databases) and less organised more ephemeral materials located outside the traditional scholarly peer review process and norms of author identification and distinct intellectual property.
The fact that the web enables almost anyone to publish almost anything, bypassing traditional filtering procedures and editorial scrutiny, in turn raises quality and trust issues. A concern for information professionals and information users is how to adapt to new technology, engaging and embedding new practices in academic social norms – as illustrated by the web-wide propagation of blogs and Wikis, examples of the open and participatory sources supported by the technology of Web 2.0 []. The challenge continues to be how to ensure that Internet sources are used in ways that support research and practice and do not degrade academic work with low quality or factually incorrect materials.
Many of us, even those who pre-date the “Google generation”, turn to the popular search engines, like Google, for our immediate initial search of the Internet. There are benefits and limitations to their use for academic work. The search engines work best when we have reasonably specific details of individual items but are less successful in determining relevance and quality in broader subject areas.
Search engines become more sophisticated all the time but it is still the case that areas of the Internet, the so-called “deep” or “invisible” web, are not readily available to search robots. (For more on the Invisible web – Deep web and hidden sources on the web see Sherman and Price []). Despite developments in Internet-wide search engines, a significant percentage of information published on the web, such as that in complex site structures or multimedia materials, remains hidden, not indexed and not evaluated for quality.
The web provides enormous opportunities and some obstacles for successful research that need to be acknowledged and addressed to ensure that the Internet doesn’t degrade academic work. Users need to be able to distinguish between substantive resources and sites of limited academic value, so they find and use sites of relevance and reliability and are able to apply judgment to the information they adopt and use in their own work.
Intute is designed to help users avoid the dangers of misinformation and out-of-date information, and encourages students not to degrade work by using inappropriate sources. Intute’s training resources highlight the importance of identifying, attributing and citing Internet sources, raising awareness of the perils of the ease of copy and paste which might lead students to reuse the work of others without proper reference and face accusations of plagiarism.
The Big Blue Connect report [], an investigation of how staff access and use information within their work environment, commissioned by the UK higher education funding body’s Joint Information Systems Committee, identified a tendency for users to rely on a relatively small and closed set of resources or “well-trodden paths” – so users don’t necessarily find new services unless they are brought readily to their attention and made easily available to them. The continual update of Intute, within the context of subject-specific relevance and academic value, aims to take users beyond the well-trodden paths.
Similarly examinations of student perceptions and practice involving information and Internet skills capabilities have revealed an over-confidence in some students in assessing their ability to use the Internet successfully – they find it easy to search the web and find information but their research results did not demonstrate quality and critical evaluation. In effect there is a gap between perceived skills and the actual results that impacts on the quality of work produced by students themselves (see Bushman []). Intute aims to help resolve some of these difficulties by being a trusted source of trusted sources and fostering good practice in Internet training and information employment.
The importance of developing information handling skills to complement and expand on established research methodologies is being recognized by research funding bodies and information professionals. For example see the UK’s Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) Benchmark Skills [] and the UK’s Economic and Social research Council’s (ESRC) Postgraduate Training Guidelines. []
“It is expected that students will be given training in web-based research techniques (general web searching, and specific training in using web-based indices) as well as training in the procedures for the evaluation of research…”
As yet, information literacy, Internet research and Internet research skills are not always considered together as part of the curriculum. There are variations in approach with some skills training found within and outside the graded or voluntary curriculum, some being delivered by academic staff utilizing course workbooks, reading lists and VLEs and other sessions being taken by information and library services staff, sometimes working in collaboration with academic colleagues.
Approaches to legal research have traditionally involved: identifying and analyzing a problem; finding appropriate information to solve the problem; and presenting the results of research. Intute is designed to help users find information online that is appropriate for academic work, so they can employ Internet information sources successfully in that research process. The service helps users identify key resources, search intelligently, discern sites of value and make positive use of the Internet for research.
The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) of the American Library Association has identified 5 competency standards or key skills components to information literacy. An information literate individual is someone able to:
- Determine the nature and extent of the information needed
- Access needed information effectively and efficiently
- Evaluate information and its sources critically and incorporate selected information into own work / knowledge base
- Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
- Understand economic, legal and social issues surrounding use of information (ethical use)
(These standards are described in more detail by Dr Peter Clinch in ‘Teaching Legal Research’ [])
Intute: Law is designed to assist in the development and application of emerging benchmark skills in Internet information literacy, helping users in: finding Internet resources, critical evaluation of information sources, and the ability to retrieve, manage, and manipulate information by all means, including electronically.
A report on researcher needs and behaviour in the UK commissioned by the Research Information Network in 2006[] revealed that:
“The main concern for most researchers is the fear that inadequacies in a particular discovery service or in their own expertise, or lack of time, might lead them to miss something significant for their research” (1.3.9)
So although there are some fears about having too much information to handle, even more researchers expressed worries about potentially missing important sources of relevant information. Again Intute: Law aims to help legal researchers in these areas – particularly with the access, evaluation, effective use and incorporation of Internet information.
Intute: Law is designed to help address some of these concerns and serve as a tool to help facilitate the legal research process at all levels, including undergraduate coursework essays, postgraduate dissertations and theses. Intute can assist in developing expertise, in saving time through its pre-selected significant resources, and in helping to foster good practice through focused selection and careful evaluation.
A menu on the left of the Intute: Law screen gives access to search and browse functions, support and training materials, and additional information, personalization and alerting services.
Intute’s combination of searching and browsing options supports different stages of research so users can focus or expand their approach accordingly - search to pinpoint specific items or browse to collect more ideas, materials and sources, raising their awareness of the type and quality of resources available.
The search box is a natural starting point for many users. A simple search box is featured at the top of each screen. Users can choose from a set of simple or advanced search options. Searches will locate records with matching terms in the title, alternative title, keywords and description fields
The search can be scoped to restrict a query to the law section or extend it to the full gateway to retrieve records catalogued in other subject sections as well. A search on the full Social Sciences catalogue aids inter-disciplinary work, enabling researchers to find law-related materials in other contexts such as business, government, social welfare and politics. Searches within subsections are dynamic, automatically limiting or extending their scope according to the section in which they are initiated, so for example you can search for “adoption” within the Family Law subject browse section to gather just the records relevant to adoption from that section.
The default search is free text. Phrase searching using quotes and standard Boolean logic connectors (AND, OR and NOT) are supported. The default syntax is AND. Truncation is switched off by default but easily activated by use of an asterisk - for example treat* will perform a search for both “treaty” and treaties”.
A summary of the search employed and the number of results it has found appears above the results list. The search results list presents relevant records and options to link to each appropriate site, batched in sets of 25 records, ranked by the number of occurrences of the search term in each record with the term highlighted in bold. Search results can also be resorted alphabetically by title.
Intute offers an Advanced Search Form, displayed below the simple search box on each screen, which facilitates more precise and powerful searches of the database. Users are offered a form in which they can specify a particular field to search or limit a search to a particular type of resource, such as legislation sites identified as providing full text legislation on the web. Results can be requested in advance in order of relevance to search terms or alphabetically by title.
The results list leads to catalogue records for individual sites or resources. For each result Intute presents a brief description of the resource, with matching search terms highlighted, together with the site title and url.
Intute records include a description providing an informed assessment of the resource, aiming to reveal the full qualities of the site. The profile tells you who is providing the information and why, who is responsible and who is the target audience. It indicates the coverage and content of the site with a note of geographical or temporal limits.
Below the description is information about the resource type, format and date the record was added to the database along with options to see Details (the full record), Go to the resource website or Save the Intute record. The title and URL can also be used to go directly to the resource website.
The full record gives the site title, a description of the resource, a list of keywords assigned to the resource, information about country of origin, site format, languages, classification codes and site url. Evaluative site profiles written by legal information specialists are a key feature of Intute: Law, providing researchers with information about the purpose and contents of a site, highlighting the presence of materials that might otherwise be missed. Every word of the description is available to the Intute search options on the system – helping uncover hard to find material from less likely places.
Intute record descriptions tell users about different languages used on a site and about the format of its component documents and any special access requirements, like email address login or subscription restrictions. Variant urls are also included where an important primary resource is available from more than one location.
An additional search engine on the service called the Harvester complements the catalogue of quality resources and can be used to extend a search beyond the Intute catalogue. A Harvester search is run automatically in parallel with a search on the Intute Internet resource catalogue and returns entries for materials which have been found through links in the quality checked websites included in that catalogue. A link to the results with an indication of the number of Harvester hits is offered on the Intute results screen.
Resources included in Intute: Laws are classified under subject headings to gather the best of the web together for a specific legal topic or jurisdiction. Users can browse the Internet resource catalogue using these headings
Intute: Law arranges records in a number of browsing screens covering: General Law, United Kingdom Law, European Union Law, Other Jurisdictions, International Law and Law by Subject Area. Selecting a browse section link takes you to a list of sub categories and resource records. For example the Law by Subject Area provides a list of legal topics and browsable sub-sections such as the Family Law section.
You can find out more about a country or subject by using browse sections and subsections to gain an overview of the range of quality selected resources available. A browsing hierarchy shown below the title at the top of the screen helps you navigate back and forth from parent section to subsections and display the relevant resource titles carried in each section.
The "United Kingdom law" browse section presents resources relevant to law and practice in the United Kingdom with hypertext links to subsections offering sites specifically related to England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and for convenience other parts of the British Isles such as: the Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
A "European Union law” browse section carries links to quality sites covering European Union law, providing ready access to treaty texts, regulations, directives, case law and comment.
The "Other Jurisdictions" section provides a starting point for researching law for a particular country, offering link collections for individual countries, jurisdictions and regions. The section lists over 220 countries and regions world wide with particular focus on finding officially published legislative and court materials.
An “International law” section identifies resources relating to or produced by international, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations exploring the body of law enabling international relations, trade and communications.
In the “Law by Subject Area” section, Intute supports topical legal research with a set of browsing sections covering a comprehensive range of legal subject areas including: commercial and company law, criminal law and procedure, entertainment and media law, environmental law, family law, and human rights.
The multi-disciplinary nature of the whole Intute service is demonstrated through links to related sections across the service – for example: Gender Law (in Intute: Law) links to Sex Roles and Women’s Issues (in Intute: Psychology section).
The first records presented at the top of the browse list are those marked “Editors choice”. These are sites of particular value identified by the law section editors.
To aid access the resources presented in a browse list can be arranged and re-ordered in a number of ways. Browse results can be sorted alphabetically by title or by date added, so the most recent display at the top of the list.
To aid browsing and filtering for relevance, resources within a country or subject section are further categorized by a range of different material or resource types. Resource types include: bibliographies, companies, governmental bodies, government publications, journals, other educational materials, papers, professional organizations, research centers and projects and resource guides. The main forms of primary legal literature are categorized under the resource types: legislation, law reports, digests and treaties. Filter options allow the results of browsing to be limited to any of these types. An indication of the number of records of that resource type in the current section of the catalogue is given in brackets.
As has been mentioned earlier, Intute also provides options to search within each particular browse section to further refine the results for relevance. It is also possible to view the most recent resources added to the database including all new additions or just those in the subject area you are interested in.
Intute helps identify sites providing full text legislation on the web. Major sites have been assigned the resource type “legislation” which is available for filtering results in any section of the catalogue. Other types of site may also include selected pieces of legislation. Intute site descriptions will help uncover those sources, such as Cayman Islands legislation on a Cayman law firm website. The site profile can tell you about dates of coverage and note that the text of acts contained on the site are as originally passed (without amendments or repeals) or are consolidated texts current to a particular date or that some amending material is also available onsite.
Similarly Intute: Law helps identify sources of full text law reports, cases and decisions. Again the emphasis is on tracing sites that are freely available on the Web as well as referring to commercial online law report services. Where a key title or primary resource is available from more than one location (as is the case with Privy Council decisions) Intute gives a comparative record, describing alternative sources and quoting multiple urls with links to each of the variant services.
The Individual Jurisdictions browse section provides a useful starting point to research law for a particular country or jurisdiction. The section features over 220 countries and regions, including coverage for Australian States, Canadian Provinces and US States. Departments and ministries in Governments around the world often have a website, explaining their work and publishing Parliamentary materials, official reports, consultation papers, guidance documents, and legislative drafting manuals. See the relevant Intute resource types: Governmental bodies and Government Publications. If you are interested in official Government publications it may be useful to search the full Intute: Social Sciences service, to include records created in the Politics catalogue for example.
Intute: Law’s resource catalogue includes many records for secondary legal sources – arranged by jurisdiction and/or subject area. Examples include: journals, books, papers, reports and articles.
Intute distinguishes between journal websites that offer full text articles online and journal pages limited to contents tables and/or abstracts of published articles. The filters for resource types: Journals (full text) and Journals (contents and abstracts) offer quick ways to identify journal sites within a jurisdiction or topical section – for example free full text journal sites in the Australia section.
Resource and Research Guides
Resource guides can be good starting points for exploring a legal topic on the web. They can take the form of a simple or annotated list of web links. They may be an organised directory or database of links with explanatory notes and commentary. They can be subject specific, relate to a particular country or international organisation or take a broad approach with relevance to a full range of legal issues.
Globalisation in economic, business, politics and education has promoted an international outlook and increased the need for ready and reliable access to international and multi-national materials, sources for many jurisdictions and topical areas that can support comparative academic and professional work. An international law section on Intute: Law identifies resources relating to or produced by international, inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations. There is also a separate section dedicated to European Union law. The resource type “Treaties” is available to filter results to focus on sites publishing full text treaties.
Finding Legal Subject Materials
Intute supports topical legal research with a set of browse sections dedicated to particular legal subject areas. Subject headings are assigned to each record added to the catalogue and site descriptions outline the particular subject focus and nature of contents on the site.
The service provides personalisation and alerting facilities through its MyIntute service. Users can register freely with MyIntute by supplying an email address and setting a personal password. Registration creates a personal Intute account where users can save Intute records of relevance and successful database search strategies for future use. It is also possible to set-up preferences to receive a weekly email alert listing new records added to the database – according to user specified subject areas or saved searches.
MyIntute enables users to create their own set of records from resources searched or browsed on Intute. Records can be tagged and saved before being emailed or exported to another website or Virtual Learning Environment. Records can be saved for reuse in a personal Internet resource bibliography or reading list for example, or as a reliable set of links for an academic course web page.
When users are logged into their MyIntute account they are able to save searches and setup saved subjects to receive weekly email alerts whenever new records have been added which match search terms. Similarly you can select subject areas of interest and receive email alerts when new records are added for these subjects.
Records are marked for saving in a search or browse session by using the tick button at the right of each record. The site record is then highlighted to indicate it has been selected for saving. The number of records marked for saving is shown in the MyIntute box on the left of the screen. Users can review records they have marked by clicking on the “collect records” link and then delete any records not required from this list. Users may then export the saved records to their own web pages by clicking on “Save as HTML” and copying and pasteing the code provided into a local website or by saving the records as plain text for re-use elsewhere as ready-made components.
Intute has an important training dimension emphasised by its new name. Selection and evaluation are essential characteristics of Intute and key skills to support amongst our user communities. The service includes a range of training support materials designed to help raise awareness of information literacy, Internet research and legal research skills, help locate the Internet in the legal research process and encourage critical thinking about the different ways that Internet sources can be used in personal work.
An Intute: Social Sciences leaflet has been published to raise awareness of the service and aid in its use. Printed copies are available on request and a PDF version is available from the Intute Support Materials page. In addition a subject-specific booklet introducing the “Best of the Web for Law” is available. Workshop materials and presentations from an Intute Internet for Law seminar are also available on the service.
Intute Law workbooks are freely available to help in the teaching of legal information skills and Internet awareness. The workbooks are designed to introduce the Intute: Law service, aiding practical workshop sessions as well as supporting self-paced learning. There is a general Law workbook and a workbook focusing on Foreign, Comparative and International law, with examples and exercises to help explore the wealth of legal materials available on the Internet, and suggestions on how to make full use of Intute: Law for law teaching, study and research. The workbooks look at the range of materials included in and referenced through Intute, highlight Intute features and show how Intute can help academic and professional legal researchers work with Internet information. The Law workbooks, prepared by Steve Whittle and David Gee at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, may be downloaded as MS Word documents and freely adapted for local training needs. The Intute Law workbook and Intute Foreign, Comparative and International Law workbook are available from Intute and from the IALS Web site.
Intute also hosts the Virtual Training Suite (VTS), a set of free subject-based interactive online tutorials covering Internet search and research skills and ways to exploit web resources successfully. The VTS provides Internet tutorials in over sixty subject areas covering subjects ranging from agriculture, food and forestry, through economic, law and social research methods to veterinary science and women’s studies. The tutorials are written by information specialists such as lecturers and librarians with expertise in their subject areas and the Internet. Each tutorial offers an introduction to some of the key Internet sites in its subject area as well as outlining how to evaluate the quality of Internet-based resources and avoid some of the common pitfalls of using information found on the web.
Internet for Lawyers is the free VTS online self-paced, interactive legal research tutorial designed for the legal community. The tutorial is written and regularly updated by Sue Pettit, former Law Librarian at the Wills Memorial Library University of Bristol and BIALL (British and Irish Association of Librarians) Law Librarian of the Year in 2005. The tutorial focuses on legal materials on the web offering a series of interactive quizzes, practical advice and link saving features designed to help develop essential legal Internet research skills.
The tutorial is arranged in four related sections designed to support independent learning, with useful tips on deciding on authority and usefulness and guidance on citing web resource.
“Tour” provides an overview of some key web resources for law, including examples of free and subscription services.
“Discover” considers search strategies, search engines and law subject gateways, looking at tools and techniques to help improve Internet searching and achieve relevant results.
The “Judge” section highlights the importance of critical thinking when using the Internet, with tips on discerning authority, quality and usefulness in the evaluation of websites and guidance on citation and correct attributing.
The “Success” section features examples of successful Internet use to stimulate ideas on how appropriate use of Internet materials can be applied to personal work, based on a set of scenarios describing Internet use including a legal researcher scenario, a law student scenario and law teacher scenario – each suggesting applications of Internet information beyond the immediate task.
The Internet Detective, one of the earliest web-based
Internet skills tutorials, has been updated on Intute.
This self-paced tutorial, written in a film noir private eye style, offers general guidance on how the web works with notes on understanding urls and what they say about the identity of the source organisation and country. The tutorial looks at ways to discern the quality of Internet-based information with suggestions on how to stay “on the right side of the law” by citing web sources correctly and avoiding charges of plagiarism.
Intute also offers a number of value-added news and current awareness features to aid legal research, which can be accessed freely from any page on the site. These include details of conferences and events which can be browsed by subject or searched by keyword, contact details for all social science departments in UK higher education institutions and social science news. Services are tailored for certain groups of users such as academics, librarians, researchers, students and teachers.
A “New Resources” link in the side menu on each Intute page offers the possibility to view the most recent resources added to the full Intute database including all new additions or just those in the subject areas of most interest.
Intute: Behind the headlines takes topical and current news or subject stories and provides links to relevant background sites on the catalogue.
Newsround is a news aggregation service, which gathers together a wide range of subject-based newsfeeds from across the Internet and presents them in a single searchable interface.
Intute offers a number of RSS newsfeeds - regular news headlines or details of resource catalogue updates are supplied by each of the Intute subject groups, including Intute: Law within the Social Sciences group. Users can receive the latest news from Intute or Virtual Training Suite news or a list of the latest additions to the Intute: Law resource catalogue. An example is on the IALS website page for Intute: Law.
Intute section editors also flag up important subject specific news stories in the Intute Blog at showcasing current topics, collaborative initiatives and service announcements.
Intute has been designed to be available for inclusion in local information portals, library catalogues or Virtual Learning Environments and other systems supporting campus-wide single logon and multiple search capabilities. Intute supports a number of options for embedding its search facilities in your own working environment.
A facility called "Intute-Include" is an application developed to install the Intute search box on your web site or Intranet, so you can search Intute remotely, and retrieve results from Intute without leaving your own web environment. Intute-Include is free to the academic community and available to commercial clients for a fee. There is also a version of Intute-Include known as Intute-Lite which provides similar search integration functionality without needing to install any software on your webserver. Results retain the host organisation look and feel, but the result set URL changes to the http://www.intute.ac.uk/domain.
Further information on a range of options for employing Intute-Include is available.
Library catalogue system suppliers have developed portal products and search interfaces that allow access to multiple resources with one search. It makes it possible for a single search to be sent to several selected web-based resources with results presented in a single interface. These federated search products, such as Innovative Interfaces Inc.'s MetaFind on the IALS Library catalogue, facilitate integrated access to Intute. This will allow a single search to trace onsite print materials, electronic subscription resources and free Internet-based resources. Further information on the Intute target settings for cross search systems is available online.
Users select which resources they would like to search at the same time, execute a federated search and then sort or save results from a single de-duplicated results list or connect directly to resources.
Such combined search facilities bring Intute: Law closer to its users and enable them to make use of Internet resources in the context of local library-held print and electronic sources, raising awareness of the full range of materials available on library shelves and via web workstations.
System suppliers have also developed products to provide context-sensitive links from the library catalogue to other relevant web-based resources using OpenURL [] technology. Products, such as Innovative Interfaces Inc.’s WebBridge, enable a catalogue search to be taken forward to a range of other relevant resources. Intute is compatible with such systems and can be included in the resources offered by a library catalogue. Again this new facility will allows researchers to trace library-held print materials or electronic resource subscription services and go on to find other relevant free remote Internet resources– raising awareness of the full range of available materials.
Sample Innovative WebBridge target settings for Intute are appended to this article. You can try these features on the IALS Library catalogue.
Intute is hosted and managed by MIMAS (Manchester Information & Associated Services) at the University of Manchester, and is a consortium involving 7 UK universities: the University of Birmingham, the University of Bristol, Heriot Watt University, the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Nottingham and the University of Oxford, supported by 70 partner institutions providing distributed teams of subject experts and advisors. The UK government funds the service through the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), with support from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Intute: Social Sciences, which contains Intute: Law is hosted and developed by the Institute for Learning and Research Technology (ILRT) at the University of Bristol.
The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (University of London) has key responsibility for the law section of Intute, working in partnership with colleagues at the University of Bristol.
IALS was founded in 1946 and is one of the ten Institutes which constitute the School of Advanced Study of the University of London and which function as open environments for research and study by scholars and other specialists from all over the United Kingdom and beyond. The Institute is a leading centre for legal research and provides national research library and information services in law.
IALS has had a leading role in developing a number of electronic information initiatives, such as: FLAG, the Foreign Law Guide – an online inventory of primary law print sources for foreign jurisdictions held in UK libraries), caLIM, the Current Awareness for Legal Information Managers database, the Current Legal Research Topics database (CLRT) and is a trustee, through its Librarian, of BAILII, the British and Irish Legal Information Institute publishing free online primary legal materials for the UK and Ireland). IALS involvement ensures that Intute: Law evolves as a natural partner to other national legal information services like FLAG and BAILII.
Information about developments in Intute: Law appears regularly in the IALS Library newsletter.
The Law Section editors are involved in the continuous development of Intute: Law through the maintenance of resource records and addition of new sites. We monitor email discussion and distribution lists, actively search the web and lists of new resources, follow leads in professional journals and newsletters, discover sites in the course of other work at the Institute (such as VLE updates and reference enquiries), and act on user suggestions and recommendations. We look for scholarly rather than popular sites. We include resources with substantive content relevant to learning, teaching and research, sites particularly likely to satisfy users' information needs. We check trustworthiness, currency and user-friendliness. We exclude sites that demonstrate political bias, excessive personal opinion or where content is limited to promotional material.
There are facilities to identify duplicate records, check the currency of links, track and repair broken links, prompt for record review and generate search statistics. About 5% of the database is involved in review and repair each week. Records for sites that have moved or require a new description can be suspended from public view in the database, pending further update.
Policies have been adopted and updated across Intute to help with selection and management issues. Constituent services follow well-defined collection development policies. Scope guidelines, selection criteria and a set of cataloguing rules based on Dublin Core metadata standards are applied to maintain consistency and quality across the range of subject centres and resource catalogues. A courtesy confirmation email message is sent to the contact administrator for each site added to Intute.
Participation by our users and potential users is essential to the successful development of Intute: Law. The service gains a sense and understanding of researcher needs for new features and coverage through feedback, MyIntute and user involvement in Intute’s outreach services. Users can recommend a site for inclusion at any time.
As the Internet continues to expand and play an increasingly important role in our lives and work, the Law section editors at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and service partners in the University of Bristol will be working to ensure that Intute: Law lives up to its name, guiding users to relevant, accurate and up-to-date Internet resources and supporting online training in Internet research and information skills, so the Internet continues to have a positive impact on the professional life and work of legal researchers around the world.
As you use the service please contact us with comments and suggestions. We’d like to hear from you.
Contact the Intute: Law Section Editors:
Heather Memess, IALS Library, University of London
Steven Whittle, IALS Library, University of London
Debra Hiom, ILRT, University of Bristol
Sample Innovative WebBridge target settings for Intute - Smart linking to Intute
Link display – WebOPAC bib panel:
Find <b><i>#@TITLE#</i></b> at #LinkText#
Data test – select HasTITLE
Link display – WebOPAC browse panel:
Search for <b><i>#@USERSEARCH#</i></b> at #LinkText#
Smart linking to Intute: Law
Link display – WebOPAC bib panel:
Search for <b><i>#@USERSEARCH#</i></b> at #LinkText#
Sample Data test – select MatchLAWbib (or similar data test established locally to distinguish law collection bib record in the catalogue)
Link display – WebOPAC browse panel:
Search for <b><i>#@USERSEARCH#</i></b> at #LinkText#
[] Wikipedia entry for Web 2.0 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2
[] Buschman, J., Warner, D. A. ‘Researching and Shaping Information Literacy Initiatives in Relation to the Web: Some Framework Problems and Needs', The Journal of Academic Librarianship Volume 31, Issue 1, Pages 12-18, (2005).