Similarities between Legal and Scientific Literature

By Kawula, John D. | Special Libraries, Spring 1993 | Go to article overview

Similarities between Legal and Scientific Literature


Kawula, John D., Special Libraries


The relationship between law and science is discussed in a large body of literature. Much of this concerns the impact law has on science and vice versa. Another theme compares the value systems and methods of the two fields. Several authors have noted the similar yet slightly discordant values that law and science hold toward progress and advancement in a structured social order.|1,2,3~ There is even a theme asserting that law and science are different manifestations of searches for regularity, order, and control.|4~

It is ironic that few authors have addressed the similarities between the literature and indexing of the two areas, and possible implications for libraries. Law is usually viewed as a social science closely allied to sociology and political science, with connections to history and philosophy. It should be expected that law would have literature patterns similar to those fields. However, for several reasons, the literature of law is conceptually and structurally different from the remainder of the social sciences and closer to that of the sciences. Legal and scientific libraries have more in common than might be expected.

Serials Literature

The most obvious area of similarity is the relative importance of serials in the two fields. Most writers agree that serial literature constitutes a much higher percentage of the total publications, use, and citation in the sciences than in either the social sciences or humanities.|5,6~ Legal literature has a similar emphasis on serials.|7,8~ This emphasis is even stronger in the United States than in other countries. The U.S. system of federalism has a disproportionate number of legislative, administrative, and judicial institutions issuing laws, regulations, and rulings in serial form. U.S. courts, unlike those in parliamentary democracies, often interpret legislative intent beyond that indicated in statutes.|9~ Hence legislative documents, such as reports or committee hearings, are considered important legal serials. The U.S., being unusually litigious, also has a high volume of case law.

Indexing Systems

An emphasis on serial literature almost necessitates an emphasis on serials indexing. Legal and scientific indexes are numerous and tend to be highly structured and well-organized. There are conceptual similarities in the manner in which legal and scientific indexes are used. One of the guiding principles of legal research and practice is stare decisis (to abide by, or adhere to decided cases).|10~ Precedents are sought by consulting legal sources and indexes. However, legislation and judicial interpretations are always changing. Legal research usually consists of a simultaneous search for precedent and currentness. A similar approach is used in scientific research. Certainly, this is true to a degree in any field; however, the literature is more stable in the humanities and social sciences, and currentness is usually not as important.|11~ Hence, a continuous linkage between past and current literature is not sought as often in the social sciences and humanities.

The structure of legal and scientific indexes differs somewhat and tends to be more detailed and elaborate than that of the social sciences and humanities indexes. Indexing is a complex activity that brings items together in a topical or conceptual manner but also separates them so the details or unique features of the items are identifiable. Indexes in all subject areas balance the organization and extraction by concepts with the organization and extraction by details.

Indexes in the humanities often emphasize thematic or conceptual organization over detail. Sometimes it is difficult to extract desired details or clearly identify the scope and coverage of humanities indexes.|12~ Social science indexes share some of these same characteristics.|13,14~ It is often perceived that researchers in the social sciences and humanities do not require tightly constructed or detailed indexes, as they rely more on citations in monographic bibliographies or informal collegial information exchange. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Similarities between Legal and Scientific Literature
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.