Legal Research when Relying on Open Access: A Primer

20 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2015 Last revised: 28 Oct 2016

See all articles by Gijs van Dijck

Gijs van Dijck

Maastricht University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: April 1, 2016


With more and more information disclosed online and with open-access policies on the rise, legal academic research is becoming more accessible. The potential impact of this development is enormous, particularly in areas or jurisdictions where offline information is scarce and where access to subscription-based journals or books is limited or non-existing. Because the current literature lacks materials that guide researchers who conduct legal research while relying on open access, this article discusses where and how to find and select relevant academic books, journal articles and working papers in the open-access world. The resources, selection tools and search strategies explained in this article focus on finding open-access sources in English. Consequently, this article aims to assist researchers who rely on materials that are freely accessible because they lack access to books and to subscription-based journals outside of their own jurisdiction. The section on search strategy is relevant for researchers who aim to identify sources in an effective and efficient way.

Keywords: Legal research, methodology, sources, open access, internet, search strategies

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

van Dijck, Gijs, Legal Research when Relying on Open Access: A Primer (April 1, 2016). Law and Method, 2016, Tilburg Law School Research Paper No. 17/2015, Available at SSRN: or

Gijs Van Dijck (Contact Author)

Maastricht University - Faculty of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, 6200

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