Author Archives: katelmatthews

New Lexis Platform

After many years with the same ‘look’, Lexis Library has updated its interface to a new and more streamlined version – Lexis+ UK.   From Thursday 15th September, when you go onto Lexis, this new platform will be ‘live’ and the old version will no longer be available.

Like with most new platforms,  the best way to learn is to go on and have a look around.  However to help with the basics, we have put a few pointers below.  We have also produced a 15 minute video to go through things in more detail for those that prefer to see it demonstrated rather than static screen shots.  It can be found  on the Law Bod 4 Students Canvas page, under Panopto Recordings here or if you cannot access that site then it is also on YouTube here  (please note that we are still working on the closed captions for this version)

We are likely to be offering training as Michaelmas term starts and so look out for this if you are interested.  Lexis+ UK have also produced a number of training documents and videos and you can get to these by clicking on ‘Help’ in the top right of the Lexis homepage.  Lexis has also put some more information here Your Lexis+ UK Upgrade

As with all new platforms, we are expecting teething problems and so please, if you get stuck or have any specific questions then contact

Lexis+ UK can be found in the same way as the old platform and the usual links should automatically take you to the new platform as soon as it is live but we will keep you updated.


The homepage looks less cluttered. As you go in you, it should default to the Legal Research option on the left.  The default ‘look’ used to be the dark screen but Lexis+ was thinking of making the default the light screen.  Either way, you can change it by going to the little moon and sun icon in the top right and choose which you prefer. You will see that it has a main search box and then underneath it has a tab called ‘Explore’.  To get to the options mentioned below, click on the little arrow next to Explore.

This will bring up options other than using the main search box to get to the materials.

Searching for a case

Although there is no longer a specific box on the homepage, cases are one thing that you can search for from the main box on the homepage.  If you use the citation only it should bring the right result to the top (despite there being lots of results).

If you need to subject search or use party names (or perform a more structured search) then you need to go to Content → Cases → Advanced search

Searching for legislation

Legislation does not work as well from the main box on the homepage.  It is better to go to Content → Legislation and then use the box on this page to search for the title of the act and this should bring up one main entry that will allow you to browse the sections or you can use the table of contents.  If you are looking for a specific section you can go to ‘Advanced search’ but we think it is easier to use the previous method as the results you get are not as clear under the advanced search.


Searching for a source

If you are uncertain as to whether a particular series or source is on Lexis+ UK then there is an option (as there was with the old platform) to search for it.  All you need to do is go to My Sources → Search Sources and type it in.


This will bring up a list and you just click on the title to search or browse.  At time of testing, this includes the international sources as well. There is also the option to ‘View all sources’ which gives you an A-Z list and you can narrow down by content type on the left hand side.




There are the usual options to print/email/save, although the icons have changed slightly.  There is also the option to save to a folder to Lexis+ UK, which is a good option to use if you are not yet sure something is worth printing out or saving.  You can access your folder at the top of the page.


As with the old platform, you can set up current awareness alerts for particular areas of law.  If you do have alerts on the old platform, these cannot be migrated to the new platform and so you will need to go in and set these up again.  It is very similar to the old platform.  Go to the 3 dots at the top and choose ‘Alerts’ and then you should see the option to ‘create alert’.


There is also the option to save a search as an alert, so the search is run daily/weekly/monthly and new results are sent to you.  Just click on the little bell icon once you have run your search for the first time and follow the instructions.


International materials

To get to the international materials just click on the tab called ‘International’ and this will give you a menu with country options.  Lexis+ UK have only just made this section available and so we have not had chance to explore this fully, but once we have, we will write another blog post.


Any issues with using the new platform then please contact us and look out for further training and help.

Current Awareness Tools

Do you want to keep up to date on your subject?  This blog post will go through some of the current awareness tools, sources and methods you can use to save you time in keeping abreast of recent developments in your area of law.

We will be looking at delivery methods, table of contents services, databases alerts, news sites, and social media.  This blog post focuses on receiving updates within an area of law rather than doing an initial subject search (although some of the alerts are results of a search).  If you want to know about these sorts of tools and sources, take a look at our blog post here

This blog post was in support of the class run on 9th November 2021 and a truncated recording of the class is available to those currently at Oxford here .This recording will also show in more detail how to create alerts in some of the databases mentioned.

Delivery methods/mechanisms

Most people are familiar with email alerts and there is usually this option available when you sign up to any type of alert or newsletter.

However, there are other ways of receiving information that allow you to keep your inbox free.  Which you choose depends on what will work best for you and so let’s look at both of these in more detail.


The advantages of using email, as a method of receiving updates is that you will see the update sitting there in your inbox and be reminded that you need to read it.  It is also something that you will be used to using and organising.

The disadvantages are the clutter it adds to your inbox.  It also appears alongside other emails and so it is easy not to see the updates when scanning your inbox.

If this is the mechanism you choose, then it is worth setting up folders and rules which allow your current awareness to be sent into a separate place.   If you use Gmail then some useful information can be found here .  If you use Outlook then a help guide can be found here .

RSS Feeds

What are RSS Feeds?

An RSS feed is website content put into a standard format that can be sent out by the owners of the content and picked up by subscribers.  It is a bit like tuning into a radio station or subscribing to a magazine.  The purpose of the feed is to alert people when new content is available or there has been a change. There is a link to the associated website/database that allows the subscriber to get straight to the new information.

RSS Feed Readers

In order to read/receive RSS feeds, you need to subscribe to a feed reader.  These can be browser based.  They can also be web-based.  You can search for browser based apps on the internet and these will then be added to your browser. There are a number of free web based readers, two are noted below.

Feedly is a free service but you need to sign up for an account.  You can sign up using a Gmail or Facebook account but if you want to keep them completely separate, you can sign up just using an email and a password of your choosing.  Once you have an account, you can then add feeds by using the search bar and putting urls into it or the feed address itself.  There are also options to browse for feeds depending on subject and category.  Feedly allows you to sort your feeds into folders on the left hand side.  Take a look at the class recording of mentioned above or go to to learn more.  There are features of Feedly that you need to pay for, we would suggest only doing so if you are going to make use of them.



Netvibes is an alternative to Feedly and looks very different.  Again, you need to sign up for a free account (again the same options as Feedly are available).  Netvibes allows you to set up ‘boards’ and you can have a number of different tabs for different things.  You can also customise the layout of the tabs with different numbers of columns.  Then you just need to add ‘apps’ or in this case ‘feeds’ which will appear as tabs on the board.  You can add other types of ‘apps’ to the board as well.  There is an option at the top to change it to a straight RSS reader which will list your feeds rather than put them as ’tiles’.  There is a brief demonstration in the class recording but you can also look at Netvibes help pages here for more information .  Again there are paid for premium accounts.

Browser and other options

There are in browser apps for most browsers and so this may be an option if you would prefer not to have to visit a web based reader.  Just search for ‘rss reader for Chrome/Safari/Edge’.  These will be ‘add ons’ to your browser.  There are other web based readers to the 2 we have mentioned such as Inoreader ( ), Newsblur ( ), and Feeder ( ) and so it is worth looking at a few to see which ‘look’ you prefer.

Advantages of RSS Feeds

One of the main reasons to use this method over email is that there is less clutter in your inbox and everything is in one place.  You can also choose when to view the information so you can go to your reader at a time when you want to review the latest news. You can organise it into folders on your reader without it being mixed in with other information/emails.  You also don’t have to remember to delete or unsubscribe.  A reader may also offer suggestions of sites that you were not aware of and so further your research.


There is a need to set up a feed reader in either your browser or a web based service.  There is also the possibility (especially with free services) that a service will be discontinued and you will have to set up from scratch on an alternative.

It is easy to forget you have these set up and then remember to go on to your reader regularly to check, an email is harder to ignore. To make the most of it, you will have to invest time in learning how your chosen reader behaves and to set up folders.  You will also have to remember to keep (or download/save) any items if you want to refer to them later as many readers will delete ‘read’ items. You cannot use it as depository for relevant research.

So, we have looked at different methods of receiving current awareness, let’s look now at the types of content you may wish to sign up for.


Alerting Services

TOCs (Table of Content Services)

Table of Contents Services are a type of alert that will let you know when a new issue of a journal has been published.  These are particularly good if there are specific journals that you are interested in or are important in your field.  Quite often, you can get a TOC alert by finding the journal electronically and then looking for this sort of alert on the relevant database.  However, there are sites that allow you to create TOC alerts for more than one journal from one central place.


Zetoc ( ) is a service offered by the British Library.  It is a JISC service that is free to members of UK higher and further education institutions as well as other organisations.  As such you will be asked to sign in by searching for your organisation from a list.  There are a number of different options available.  For help using this service then take a look at the guide here or there are training videos offered from the site as well.




JournalTocs is another service that allows you to centrally sign up to table of contents alerts.  You need to set up an account but it is free, although there are premium services available.  You can search for specific titles, articles or you can browse by subject.  Once you have found a journal, you can ‘follow it’ via rss feed or email.  Help searching and following titles can be found on the help pages here .


Database and indexes alerts

There are a lot of databases and indexes that allow you to set up alerts.  Some of these allow you to set up an alert from a search.  This means that the database will automatically run a search you have already performed (at a frequency of your choosing) and send you any new results.   A few legal databases also allow you to create subject alerts, where you choose legal topics from a set menu and then which types of information you want to receive.  Below are a few examples you may wish to explore.

Westlaw Edge UK

Westlaw can be found via SOLO here or via our list of Legal Databases here  .  Once logged on (you will need your SSO) you can create 2 different types of alert.  If you have performed a search and want the database to periodically run the search for you and send you new results, then you can use the small bell icon at the top of the results pages to do this.  As well as this, you can create a subject alert which will allow you to choose legal topics and materials and will send you an update at a frequency of your choosing.  Both of these options can be managed by going to ‘Alerts’ in the top right.  Lawtel (which was a separate database that is now included on Westlaw), also has a daily alert that you can get.  You can get to Lawtel from the Westlaw Edge UK homepage and then you can choose the type of daily alert from the menu.  Help setting up alerts can be found on the user guide here .

Lexis Library

Lexis Library can be found via SOLO here  or via our list of Legal Databases here . It offers an almost identical service as Westlaw, so the ability to set up and alert from a search or create a subject alert.  However, there are differences in the material on the databases and so it is worthwhile setting up alerts for both to make sure you do not miss anything.  Alerts can be managed by choosing ‘my alerts’ under the menu in the top right.  Help setting up alerts can be found in the user guides here 

Social Science Citation Index (via Web of Science)

If your research is broader than just law, then you may want alerts from a broader index.  The SSCI is an index of articles from the social sciences.  It can be accessed via SOLO here . Unlike Westlaw and Lexis Library, you need to create a separate account (it doesn’t recognise you as a individual via your SSO).  Once you create an account, you can go to alerts on the top menu.


Google Scholar

Although not strictly a database, if you are a user of Google Scholar , you can create alerts.  These alerts are search alerts and so, like with Westlaw and Lexis Library, Google Scholar will periodically run a search and send you any new results.  You can create an alert by clicking on the ‘create alert’ link at the bottom of the left hand menu.  Once you have these set up, you can manage your alerts by going to the menu in the top left and choosing ‘alerts’.


News sites, Blogs, Podcasts (and Social Media)

There are a number of sites that either offer original legal news content or collect legal news from other sites.  As well as legal news sites, another good source of up to date information are blogs.  Blogs can be written (and published) quite quickly and so, although not peer reviewed, can be a great way to be informed of new developments in your subject area.  Social media can also be a useful way to get information as it happens.  There are so many sites, it would be impossible to list them all but below are a selection of sites to get you started.

News and Views

Blogs and Social Media

If you are looking to use Twitter as a current awareness tool, then you can use Twitter Lists to separate them from your personal ones, help can be found here

Reviewing your alerts and news

It is important, once you have set up your alerts and other current awareness content, that you review and make sure it is working for you.  We suggest that you set a trial period for all your alerts and then spend some time evaluating whether the content coming back is useful or whether the mechanism you are using (email or RSS) is working.

If you have any questions about anything in the blog, or if you want more detailed instructions, email  and we can set up a meeting.

Tools for Literature Searching 


Are you having to do a formal literature review or just needing to start your research?  Below we discuss some of the things that may help you.  We will be looking at each of the different elements briefly but will (hopefully) point you to resources so you can dive a little deeper.

This blog post is in support of a class we ran at the beginning of this month.  A recording of that class can be found at if you are an Oxford University member.



So first things first, what is a literature review?

(social sciences) A formal, reflective survey of the most significant and relevant works of published and peer-reviewed academic research on a particular topic, summarizing and discussing their findings and methodologies in order to reflect the current state of knowledge in the field and the key questions raised. Literature reviews do not themselves present any previously unpublished research. They may be published as review articles in academic journals or as an element in a thesis or dissertation: in the case of the latter, they serve to situate the current study within the field – Dictionary of Media and Communication, accessed on Oxford Reference (16/11/2021)

This definition shows that a literature review is not just a quick search of the known databases but involves a lot more.  This post will look at some of the things that may help with a more systematic approach.  As the picture below shows, there are various stages: Defining the scope of the research, devising search terms, compiling a list of relevant sources, conducting a search, organisation of material, evaluation of the material and then coming up with a way of keeping on top of any developments using current awareness tools.

An overview of the aspects of a literature reivew

Scope of the research

It is important to start with what you are being asked to do.  Is it a formal literature review which has to be presented in a particular way, or are you compiling a select bibliography for your topic or are you just starting off your research?  Are you looking at material for one jurisdiction or all material on a topic?  Are you restricted to peer reviewed material or do you want to expand your research to non-traditional sources such as blogs and podcasts?


It is worth spending time putting together a list of keywords and deciding which are ‘key’ terms that you know would appear or that you definitely would need to appear in material to make it relevant.  Have a secondary list of terms that you think may also be relevant but not essential.  Think about synonyms especially if you are looking across jurisdictions or disciplines.  You should also think about broader and narrower terms, just in case there are too many/too few results once you start.

As well as just a list of terms, it is also worth thinking about the relationship between the key terms and concepts.  Below is a very simple example.

A grid showing some keywords

Leading on from this, think about the Boolean connectors and how you can use them in the best way.  Most databases have the basic connectors: AND, OR and NOT, but a lot of databases have many more connectors available that will make your research more efficient (an example of this would be proximity connectors that allow you to search for terms within a sentence/paragraph/number of words).  Advanced searches are usually available, and this may help structure your search and do some of the work for you.

It is worthwhile looking at the help pages on the databases you are using before starting your search to make sure you are getting the most out of it.

Talking of sources, we will now move on to the next thing to think about  –  where should we look?


It is important for you to make a list of the possible sources available to you in order to make sure you have covered a wide base.  In Oxford there are many databases and indexes to help and it can sometimes be a little bit overwhelming as to which to use.  Below is a list of general sources for Law that cover different type of academic material.  These should be a good place to start, however the list is not exhaustive.  There are also databases that are more specialised depending on what you are researching (e.g. Human Rights) and so please do contact your friendly subject librarian to go through these as well.  Remember that not all of the databases will have useful information for your topic but it is worth searching so you can cross them off your list.

To look at a selection of these in more detail.

  • Legal Journals Index: This is on Westlaw Edge UK and is a subscription service. It has abstracts of a large number of legal article published in the UK from 1986 onwards. Although this is an index and a method of finding a list of articles on a topic, it does link to the full text when the journal is on Westlaw.  It does not, however, has citation information (such as times cited) that other indexes have.  It is best to use when looking for articles published in the UK.
  • Social Science Citation Index: You can access this via SOLO and it forms part of the Web of Science database. It has some coverage of law journals but it is better for subjects with a cross disciplinary aspect.  Although it is an index, it does have a link to the full text via the Find@Oxford tab.  It also has a lot of clever citation information and does allow you to search for citation rankings for journals.  It covers jurisdictions both in and outside the UK.
  • Articles on SOLO:  This is an index that is included on SOLO and you will be searching it if you leave it as the default “search everything”.  However you can search this index specifically by choosing “articles” from the drop down menu.  There are links through to the full text via the “online access” link and every result should be available to you at Oxford.  However, it doesn’t include everything and it does not have cited information.
  • Google Scholar:  This is a free index and is really easy to search.  You can get links to full text via Find@Oxford to appear by going into Settings  – Library Links and adding Oxford to your list.  It has ‘cited by’ information and other helpful tools but it does not cover everything and it may be difficult to narrow things down to legal journals.
  • Westlaw International/World journals:  This is a full text subscription collection that you can access via Westlaw Edge UK.  If you go to Westlaw International on the right hand side.  It is very good for US journals but has journals from other jurisdictions as well.  It also has a clever advanced search that helps you build your search to make it more efficient.  Depending on the jurisdiction, it does have some citation tools.
  • Social Science Research Network:  This is a subscription service that you can access via SOLO or the list of legal databases.  It contains papers, research  and pre-publication material. You can browse or search and it contains the Legal Scholarship Network.
  • Proquest: Dissertations and Theses:  A subscription database of a different type of material but one that may be useful in finding out what other material is out there that may not be published.  It has full text for some jurisdictions but only abstracts for UK and Ireland.
  • ORA (Oxford University Research Archive): This should be included in a SOLO search but there is a link to a dedicated search screen from SOLO.  It has research deposited by Oxford academics as well as theses but there is not always full text available.

Literature Search Itself

Of course you then need to go off and search the sources you have identified.  A blog post is not the right place to go through the best method of searching but if you are interested, then the recorded class mentioned above ( shows searching the sources highlighted above or you can book an appointment to sit down with a librarian; just email

Evaluation and sorting

Once you have your list of results and material, you will probably need to look at evaluating it in some way (regardless as to whether you are doing a formal review or just starting your research).

Using ‘Cited by’ information

An example from SSCIOne method you can look at to help you determine the most authoritative articles, is to look at how many times an article has been cited.  Some of the indexes will do this for you, for example Google Scholar has the number of times an article has been cited (along with a link through).  Social Science Citation Index goes one step further and allows you to sort by ‘times cited’ and other useful filters. You can also use the Social Science Citation Index to show the citation rankings for journals in your area, although this is limited in the case of law.

Concept Mapping

This may be something that you want to use even before your searching but it can also help when you are trying to sort as well.  There are free applications you can use such as Coggle or Bubbl.Us.  Below is an example of ideas for this class as shown on Coggle.

An example of a coggle diagram


You may wish to use coding to help evaluate and sort your results (depending on what you are wanting to do).  This can be done manually (with post it notes for example) or you can become familiar with software such as Nvivo (especially if you are going to go on and conduct original research).



Keeping track of your results as you go along is very important, especially if you are going to be compiling a bibliography.  Lots of the databases will allow you to make use of folders, but you also need a central method to keep a track of the citations.

There are a number of reference management software options out there (some subscription, some free) and it is worth taking your time to see which suits.  If you are studying law at Oxford, then Endnote is perhaps the best to choose as it has the correct OSCOLA style available.    Other popular ones are Refworks, Zotero and Mendeley. Oxford University has institutional subscription to both RefWorks and Endnote and so it is free to use if you are an OU member.  More information can be found in this Libguide .  If you are at Oxford, you can also take advantage of the IT training for this sort of software.


Current Awareness

If you are conducting a literature review it is probably a snapshot of the material available at that particular point in time.  However if the review is the start of your research, you will need to monitor the topic to be aware of any new publications within the field.  Rather than just periodically search the same sources, there are tools to help you keep up to date.  There is a separate class on these (as well as an accompanying blog post) coming up and so we will not get into detail here, but things to think about are:

  • RSS Feeds/emails
  • Table of Content services
  • Database alerts
  • Blogs, Twitter, other social media

If you have any questions on this, then please get in touch our email is