Before starting on your research project, it is important to answer some critical questions about your research. Knowing the answers to the important questions will determine how long you must research as well as what material must be researched.
How Much Time do I have to Research?
If you have a lot of time for research, it would be good to cover all of your bases and examine all of the relevant secondary and primary material, as well as persuasive authority. However, if there is less time to research, then you must manage your time more accordingly and only research the most relevant material for your project.
Which Jurisdiction's Law Applies?
Before starting your research, you must first determine if your issue is governed by either state or federal law. Depending on which law governs the issue, certain research material will be more relavant to your project than other research materials.
Are there Limits on Research Material?
When you are currently in school, Westlaw and Lexis are free, so the bulk of your research will probably be on them. However, when you graduate law school, you will now have to pay to use Westlaw and Lexis, so you will either have to do more research from books or you will have to use Westlaw and Lexis very efficiently. What you decide to do is dependant on how well you know the issue at hand.
How Familiar are you with the Research Issue?
If you are familiar with the research issue, you will probably know the correct sources to go to in order to properly research. Therefore, you will spend less time on research as well as having to research less. However, if you are unfamiliar with the issue, you will have to take longer to research as well as research more material.
What will be the Final Result of my Research?
Depending on what the final product of your research is going to be, you will also research different material. A brief is going to be researched differently than an informal memo.