How should I find case law for my Criminal Psychology presentation (PSY 3313)?

This question was asked by Psychology 3313 students preparing a presentation on serial killers, but this post may be of use for any Brescia student trying to find case law or legal information. For more advanced legal research help, we recommend contacting Western’s Law Library.

Before starting on criminal psychology research, I recommend trying to find the following information. Try looking at Lexis Nexis through, or by looking at general books/websites on the topic.  Even Wikipedia may give you this information.  It’s much easier to do proper academic research when you have the case details!

  • Parties involved
    • Accused, victims, lawyers, judges
  • Legal system/location of trial
  • Date of investigation
  • Details of the case

Next, try using one of the resources listed below.

Westlaw Canada

Western has recently provided Brescia students with a standard subscription to Westlaw Canada. This is one of the premier case law resources and can often be a “one-stop-shop” for undergraduate assignments. Legal journals, case law, court documents and more can be found here.  The added bonus is that, despite the name, information can also be found from a variety of countries including the United States, Australia, the EU and HongKong.

Westlaw Canada can only be accessed from on Western’s campus. You cannot access it from wireless or from Off-Campus, so you must use a library computer (any library on campus, including the affiliates, provides you with access).

To find Westlaw: visit and click “W” Use your case number or other information to find details on your case.

Free Material through the web

Open source case and legal information is also available. This is usually organized by the court system: make sure to pay attention to where your criminal trial took place or your accused was arrested. If you have trouble finding the court website for specific states or provinces, feel free to ask librarians for help.

Canadian Cases

  1. Canadian Case Law – All
  2. Canadian Case Law – Supreme Court Level
  3. Provincial Level

American Cases

  1. American Case Law – Supreme Court Level –
  2. Search for State courts through Google!  Just make sure you’re looking at an official website

Attached below are the PowerPoint slides used for the library presentation.  These also include legal databases for journals, news sources and media archives (e.g. for ABC, CBC, CTV, or newspapers), and resources for finding legislation, whether Canadian or American.

Power Point Slides: PSY 3313 October 24 2013

Where can I find information for my Foods and Nutrition presentation?

We have been asked this question many times over the last week, for a number of different courses including FN 1021 and FN 2232.  Obviously it will be difficult to address everyone’s needs in one post, but I’ll give it a try.

Most of you have been assigned a fairly vague topic, such as: “Omega-3’s” or “herbs and spices.”  My advice is to break your presentation down into parts and then search for information.  For example:

  1. You will likely need some definitions and background information as the first part of your presentation.  Your textbook is a logical starting place for this, but we also have some really detailed encyclopedias and dictionaries in our reference section.  Here are a few examples:
    • Encyclopedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition: TX349.E562 2003
    • Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment: RC71.C97 (also available online)
  2. For more detailed background information, consider looking for books.  Your topic may be only one chapter in a book, so make sure that your search is broad enough.
    Why don’t you want to use journal articles for this?  You can, but often journal articles are super specific (i.e. looking at the specific health benefits of a specific herb on a specific population).  So, make sure you know exactly what information you want before jumping into journal articles.
  3. Your textbook (or textbooks for other Food Sciences classes) will have bibliographies or reference pages in them, as well, that may help in developing your background summaries.  So, if you find a brief section on your topic in a textbook, check the bibliography for that chapter for further reading.
  4. Journal articles will be helpful when you’re looking for current research.  Like I mentioned above, journal articles are usually talking about specific things, but this might be helpful when you’re discussing current issues.  A tip would be to use Summon or an academic database to search for articles on your topic, but limit your results to the last few years (e.g. 2012).
    What databases should you try for Food Science? Along with the ones we generally recommend for Foods and Nutritional Sciences (Scopus, Web of Science, PubMed, etc), I would try:
    • IBIDS (International Bibliographic Information on Dietary Supplements)
    • Agricola (AGRICultural Online Access)
    • CAB Direct
  5. Current issues may also be discussed on different websites.  Dietitians of Canada or other non-governmental organizations would likely indicate whether your issue is a “hot topic.”
  6. You may also be interested in whether policies exist on your topic.  Consider checking websites like Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, or other governmental agencies that might discuss your topic.  Statistics Canada is another place to check (i.e. how many Canadians are cooking with a specific ingredient?  Or getting a certain amount of vitamin?).  [I have a blog post on searching StatsCan, too].

Hopefully this is enough to get you started!  As always, visit the library desk for more assistance!

I’m taking a Food Science course: what resources should I use?

Like I mentioned in the Choosing a Database post, Foods and Nutrition is a multidisciplinary program.  For one assignment you may be looking at social factors for why people choose to eat a certain why, while in another you’re examining the chemical properties of food components.  Luckily, Food Science is a largely scientific subject (hence the name).  That said, it doesn’t have its own Program Guide on Western Libraries’ website, unlike other Foods and Nutrition subjects (such as Clinical Nutrition or Community Nutrition).

Databases for finding journal articles

Find these resources under the Databases section of Western Libraries’ website

  • Academic OneFile
  • Agricola
  • CAB Direct*
  • ProQuest Research Library
  • PubMed Central
  • Scopus
  • Web of Science*

*Start with these databases

Reference Materials


Western subscribes to a big collection of Food Science eBooks.  To find them quickly, head to the Shared Library Catalogue and choose the “Subject” tab.  Change the drop-down menu to “Electronic Resources” and type in “Food Science.”  You should get about 150+ results (as of April 18, 2011), on a huge range of topics.


Brescia subscribes to the Annual Review of Food Science and Technology which covers the current and significant developments in the area of Food Science each year.  We also have print copies available in the library.


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a number of other databases specific to Food Science:

For further assistance, see the General Foods and Nutrition Program Guide on Western Libraries’ website, or ask for research assistance at the Brescia circulation desk!

I’m in Community Development: what resources should I use?

Update: We have created a Community Development research guide! To access it, you can browse the guides available through Western Libraries’ website, our simply click here!

Community Development doesn’t have its own Program Guide on Western Libraries’ website yet, so here is a brief list of resources to get you started.

To get you started

If you haven’t already, try conducting your search in Summon – the main search option on the Beryl Ivey Library website and on Western Libraries’ homepage.  This is a multidisciplinary search that brings up journal articles and books (along with many other things) in one search.  Summon does not search everything, though, so move onto the tips below if you haven’t found what you’re looking for.


Find these resources by visiting the Western Libraries home page and clicking “Databases” under Research Resources

  • ProQuest Research Library
  • SocIndex

For business-related information:

  • CBCA Business (Canadian Business and Current Affairs)
  • EBSCO Business Source Complete


If you still can’t find what you need, consider checking the Sociology Program Guide page on the Western Libraries’ website or seeing a library staff person for more help!

What is a “primary” source? How do I find them?

I will steal Western Libraries’ answer to this question: “Primary sources are accounts of events described or recorded by someone who either witnessed or participated in the events or who received their information from others who did.”

For our history friends (and other social scientists), you’re usually concerned with a wider variety of sources, such as:

  • Diaries
  • Letters
  • Newspaper articles
  • Speeches
  • Interviews
  • Government documents
  • Autobiographies
  • Blogs/emails
  • Photographs
  • Videos
  • Art

For our science friends, if you’re asking to find primary sources that usually means original research articles (or, an article that discusses a research project, conducted by the author).  These types of articles usually include a hypothesis, methods, results and conclusions, as the author who is writing the article is the one who conducted the study.

Here are some other really helpful websites for finding information about primary sources:

Defining Primary Sources

Primary Source Online Collections

Guides and Websites from Other Canadian Universities

Primary Source Guides – For Brescia University College Students

Is the Canadian Community Health Survey available online?

Yes!  You can access this information online thanks to the Data Liberation Initiative, the government’s way of providing statistical data to post-secondary institutions.

For the CCHS survey data:

  1. Head to the main Statistics Canada website
  2. Choose the “Key Resource” tab near the bottom of the screen
  3. Choose “CANSIM” under the Data tables heading
  4. Click the “Survey” Tab in the middle of the screen
  5. Scroll down to the Canadian Community Health Survey.  You’ll notice that there is also a “Nutrition” option, if you prefer (click the title to access)

Once you’re into the survey, you have a few choices:

  1. To find how people responded to the survey: read the Titles of the different tables available and then click the Table Number (i.e. 105-2002) next to the Title you want.  Once you’re in, you can create a customized table of the data (see a library staff member if you need assistance here)
  2. To look at the  questionnaire itself: click the Survey Number next to the title of the survey at the top of the screen (in this case, it’s 5049).  There’s lots of other neat information here, too

For the CCHS Cycle 2.2, Nutrition (2004) Nutrient Intake data release, make sure to visit:

Foods and Nutrition students may also be interested in:

Articles on Canadians’ Food and Nutrient Intakes – Canadian Community Health Survey, Cycle 2.2, Nutrition (2004)

Choosing a Database (Nutrition)

Updated Summer, 2011:

Foods and Nutrition is a very interdisciplinary subject, which makes choosing a database that much more difficult.  Luckily, Western Libraries and Brescia introduced a new product called Summon over the summer of 2011 that can act as an easy starting place for interdisciplinary programs.  I recommend starting your search in Summon: you should be able to get a good foundation of articles using this product, so that choosing a database becomes your “step two.”

After consulting Summon, it’s important to review what research you already have.  Then you can move on to making a list of what information you still need (i.e. what questions do you still have to answer? What is it that you’re looking for?)  After that, you’ll need to choose a database based on the research you still need to find.  Here are some options for you:


Some of your courses are quite science-heavy (i.e. Food Science, Clinical Nutrition), so the following databases will be suitable for sciencey research needs:

  • PubMed (current research in medicine, nursing and health care)
  • Web of Knowledge (huge, broad science database)
  • Scopus (chemistry, math, physics, life sciences, health sciences)
  • IBIDS (stuff on dietary supplements, vitamins and botanicals here)
  • CINAHL (health sciences and medicine)

Social Science

A lot of your assignments will have a more social science angle (i.e. you might have to look at people’s motivations or behaviour), especially in classes like community nutrition.  For these types of research questions, you can try the following:

  • Web of Knowledge (again, huge broad database with lots of social science information, too)
  • Scopus (also good for social science)
  • ProQuest Research Library (another super huge database – has information on almost everything)

Other Databases

  • ERIC (for education information, if you’re doing a project on community nutrition)
  • PsycINFO (for psychology information, like if you need motivation or behaviour information)