What is a Research Checklist?
While every legal problem is different, a research checklist (or research plan) outlines a logical way of approaching most legal research problems. Using a checklist will ensure that you don’t overlook any of the major research tools when working on a legal question.
Checklists guide the course of your research and serve as a written record of your research history. Even if you have looked at a source under a certain heading and found nothing, make note of it on the checklist.
Checklists start with secondary sources (legal encyclopedias, books, articles, dictionaries) as they serve as a means of accessing and interpreting primary sources of law (statutes and case law).
There are many different research checklists out there—on Westlaw Edge under Research and Writing Tools, in textbooks like The Practical Guide to Canadian Legal Research, in CanLII's Legal Research & Writing Guide, to name a few—and which one you use is up to you. What matters most is that you have a plan to organize your research.
This guide serves as a checklist as well. Each tab lists the types of sources you should consult, in the order you should use them, with links to appropriate library resources.