College essay topics to write about Legal Source

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Wikipedia has been known to be an internet link that has helped various individuals in their research but it is not acceptable for law research and essays. This essay will show the brief history of Wikipedia, the reasons for and against Wikipedia being used as a source for essays especially law essays and it will also go further to show and discuss links that can be substituted for legal research and law essays, comparisons will also be made. To begin with Wikipedia is an internet source where all sorts of information can be gotten from either for research or just to obtain knowledge for general purposes. Wikipedia was formally launched on the 15th of January, 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger but its technological and conceptual underpinnings predate this[1]. The earliest known proposal for an online encyclopedia was made by Rick Gates in 1993, but the concept of a free online encyclopedia was proposed by Richard Stallman in December 2000.[2] In 2001, the license for Nupedia was changed to GFDL, and Wales and Sanger launched Wikipedia using the concept and technology of a wiki pioneered in 1995 by Ward Cunningham[3]. Initially, Wikipedia was intended to complement Nupedia, an online encyclopedia project edited only by experts providing additional draft articles and ideas for it. In practice, Wikipedia overtook Nupedia, becoming a global project in multiple languages and inspiring a wide range of other online reference projects.[4] As of April 2014, Wikipedia includes over 31.2 million freely usable articles in 287 languages that have been written by over 45 million registered users and numerous anonymous contributors worldwide.[5] One of the major reasons Wikipedia can be considered as good source for research is that all the information that can be found on Wikipedia is referenced which gives the researcher various links to look up the particular topic that is being researched. Wikipedia is also free for all to use online. Articles are often added quickly and, as a result, coverage of current events and new technology in particular is quite extensive. Printed encyclopedias can take years to add new entries and those entries may not cover a topic in as exhaustive detail as those in Wikipedia.[6] Wikipedia is also easy to use and it is easy to comprehend given the fact that it can be translated into different languages that people are most comfortable with which is one of the reasons it is being used worldwide. Not only this but the articles found in Wikipedia are extensive, comprehensive and most times may not be gotten from any other links which is why students may be tempted to use Wikipedia for their research. Never the less Wikipedia is not an advisable website for research especially law and legal research. This is so because most of the information gotten from Wikipedia could be edited by anyone which could put the person carrying out a research at an high risk of getting wrong facts and information. “The founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, has recently stressed that Wikipedia may not be suitable for academic uses, saying, "It is pretty good, but you have to be careful with it. It's good enough knowledge, depending on what your purpose is."”[7] This statement that was made by Jimmy Wales shows that Wikipedia is unreliable and it is not all the information in Wikipedia that should be taken into consideration. Apart from this Wikipedia is open to spam and vandalism if not properly managed which is another disadvantage[8]. As a result of these disadvantages different links have been given to students, paralegals, attorneys, librarians, law researchers and teachers to serve as an alternative link for legal and law research, some of these links are Lexis, Bloomberg, Justis, BAILII, Westlaw and Eagle-i. Lexis and Westlaw are the two biggest in subscription legal database and have been the two rival legal database providers in the US since the mid 1970s[9]. Lexis was launched in UK in 1980 while Westlaw was launched in 2000.[10]Unlike Wikipedia the information gotten from Lexis are reliable because it is academic and the full text law database covers scores of thousands of reported and unreported cases from the following jurisdictions: England and Wales, 1900; Scotland, 1944; Northern Ireland, 1945; European Court of Justice, all cases.[11]Westlaw also serves the same purpose as Lexis which are (i) includes all cases from the law reports back to 1865[12], (ii) contains full text of cases from 19 other series of UK and EU law reports, as well as the full text of all UK and EU legislation.[13] In addition to this both lexis and Westlaw provide users with a version of the CELEX database of EU legislation and case law; both systems use the standard CELEX groupings which are treaties, legislation, preparatory acts, cases, national implementation and parliamentary questions.[14] Another advantage of lexis and Westlaw is that they both provide users with the Boolean and natural language search. Both systems offer a “quick search” option, providing search forms (templates) for the most frequently used a UK database[15] which makes it easier for individuals to use. Apart from this, lexis also provides non-legal information to users which could help the individual broaden the search and expand their knowledge. The non-legal material can consist of UK newspaper files. Not only this but “Westlaw has the great advantage of access to the Sweet & Maxwell Current Law index digest system, so that an already sophisticated apparatus of summaries and cross-referencing could be combined with the Windows / internet hyper linking feature to produce a very powerful research tool”[16] BAILII which is the British and Irish Legal Information Institute is another good website that students are advised to use for law essays and legal research. BAILII provides free internet access to British and Irish legal material[17] to individuals; it also provides free internet access to legal materials of England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland[18]. As at March 6th 2000 BAILII includes 14 databases covering 5 jurisdictions.[19] Not only this, but it also contains up to 400 megabytes of legal materials and over 75,000 searchable documents with about 2 million hypertext links.[20] BAILII provides a unique service and is a full and challenging alternative to other legal databases, providing access without payment or password.[21] Apart from this, BAILII’s search mechanisms provide real advantages for practitioners, researchers, teachers and students. To take one example, it is worth looking at the recent extended Sphere Drake Insurance Plc & Anor v The Orion Insurance Company Plc [1999] EWHC 286 (QB) judgment and comparing it to that same reported judgment on other systems. On BAILII the whole text is there, formatted and with all the appendices as attachments.[22] 1
[1] History of Wikipedia, Wikipedia the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org [accessed 6th April, 2014] [2] History of Wikipedia, Wikipedia the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org [accessed 6th April, 2014] [3] History of Wikipedia, Wikipedia the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org [accessed 6th April, 2014] [4] History of Wikipedia, Wikipedia the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org [accessed 6th April, 2014] [5] History of Wikipedia, Wikipedia the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org [accessed 6th April, 2014] [6] Limitations and advantages of Wikipedia, General research guide http://apps.carleton.edu [accessed 6th April, 2014] [7] Limitations and advantages of Wikipedia, General research guide http://apps.carleton.edu [accessed 6th April, 2014] [8] Advantages and Disadvantages- wikieducator http://wikieducator.org [accessed 6th April, 2014] [9] The Big Match- Lexis v Westlaw, Paul Norman http://sas-space.sas.ac.uk [accessed 6th April, 2014] [10] The Big Match-Lexis v Westlaw, Paul Norman http://sas-space.sas.ac.uk [accessed 6th April, 2014] [11] LAW- DATABASES, http://www.library.qmul.ac.uk [accessed 7th April, 2014] [12] LAW- DATABASES, http://www.library.qmul.ac.uk [accessed 7th April, 2014] [13] LAW- DATABASES, http://www.library.qmul.ac.uk [accessed 7th April, 2014] [14] The Big Match- Lexis v Westlaw, Paul Norman http://sas-space.sas.ac.uk [accessed 7th April, 2014] [15] The Big Match- Lexis v Westlaw, Paul Norman http://sas-space.sas.ac.uk [accessed 7th April, 2014] [16] The Big Match- Lexis v Westlaw, Paul Norman http://sas-space.sas.ac.uk [accessed 7th April, 2014] [17] Bailii, digital library, University of Leicester, http://www2.le.ac.uk [accessed 7th April, 2014] [18] Bailii: the cream of legal datasets, UK Centre for Legal Education, http://www.ukcle.ac.uk [accessed 7th April, 2014] [19]Bailii, digital library, University of Leicester, http://www2.le.ac.uk [accessed 7th April, 2014] [20] Bailii, digital library, University of Leicester, http://www2.le.ac.uk [accessed 7th April, 2014] [21] Bailii: the cream of legal datasets, UK Centre for Legal Education, http://www.ukcle.ac.uk [accessed 7th April, 2014] [22]Bailii: the cream of legal datasets, UK Centre for Legal Education, http://www.ukcle.ac.uk [accessed 7th April, 2014]
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