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The focus of this ResearchGuide is to help students research and write an upper level seminar paper for Professor Gilreath's Sexual Identity and the Law course (upper level writing requirement).
Last Updated: Jan 9, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Introduction to Sexual Identity and the Law

This ResearchGuide focuses on the issues pertaining to sexual identity and the law, which includes topics such as employment issues, military service, domestic relations, criminal laws as they relate to sexual identity, and the theory of sexual identity.  As with the study of law surrounding the legal complexities that surround the gay community, researching this area of law is difficult to process without a bit of history.  Below is an excerpt from Sexual Identity Law in Context written by Professor Shannon Gilreath and Professor Lydia E. Lavelle:

"The unknowing student is usually astounded to realize that the modern gay rights movement did not begin until 1969 (it was not until 1973 that the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the ofical list of mental disorders).  Prior to 1969, gay rights groups did exist, but somewhat under the radar. The Mattachine Society, formed in 1950, was the frist national gay rights organization.  It was formed by Harry Hay, often noted as the founder of the gay rights movement.  the first lesbian organization was formed in 1955 and was known as the Daughters of Bilitis.  After 1969, however, activist groups formed with a vengeance.  1969 is known as the year of Stonewall."

Not surprisingly, the discussion of gay rights in America is still a hot topic.  To see how the gay rights movement developed over the years, look to the timelines provided below:


Researching Your Seminar Paper

The process of researching and writing a note, certification or seminar paper includes some or all of the following steps:

  1. Selecting a topic
  2. Conducting a preemption check
  3. Finding legal and non-legal journal articles on the topic
  4. Finding books on the topic
  5. Finding news articles on the topic
  6. Consulting specialized sources on the topic
  7. Finding primary law on the topic
  8. Locating frequently used foreign resources
  9. Using international materials

This guide focuses on U.S. legal research, as well as a selection of international resources. Many of the same resources and techniques will be useful for researching international or foreign topics.

For personalized assistance researching your chosen topic, make an appointment with a reference librarian. 


Citation Styles

Most legal journals use The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation as the desired style of citation. However, professors may be submitting work to interdisciplinary journals, collaborating with professors in other areas, or writing for non-legal journals. The principles of citation are to accurately identify the source of information and to allow readers to find the source for themselves. The PCL collects citation and style manuals for other disciplines as well as law.

Cover Art
Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association - American Psychological Association Staff
Call Number: Reference BF76.7 .P83 2010
ISBN: 9781433805592
Publication Date: 2010
Also known as the "APA Manual," this guide describes the citation style typically used in Psychology. For online help, try Purdue's Online Writing Lab Citation Guide APA Formatting and Style Guide or Cornell's APA Citation Style guide.

Cover Art
Style Guide - American Sociological Association
Call Number: Reference HM569 .A54 2010
ISBN: 0912764317
Publication Date: 2010
This style is typically used in Sociology and related fields. Get help online from Purdue's Online Writing Lab ASA Formatting and Style Guide and Trinity University's ASA Style Citations (pdf).

Cover Art
The Chicago Manual of Style - University of Chicago Staff (Editor)
Call Number: Reference Z253 .U69 2010
ISBN: 9780226104201
Publication Date: 2010
This style is widely used in anthropology and history. Online help is available from the publishers or from Purdue's Online Writing Lab Chicago Manual 16th Edition.

Cover Art
The Bluebook - Columbia Law Review (Compiled by)
Call Number: Reserve KF245 .U55 2010
ISBN: 9780615361161
Publication Date: 2010
Several copies are on Reserve, and another copy is available for quick reference at the Reference Desk. Be sure to check out the Library's Legal Citation 101 Guide, as well!

Reference Managers

Citation or reference managers allow researchers to keep information about books and articles in a centralized location. There are a variety of software options, including expensive ones like EndNote or more moderately priced ones like RefWorks. However, there are two free options to consider: Zotero and Mendeley.

  • Zotero
    Use this Firefox extension to track research you do online, and compile bibliographies. (It also works with other browsers, such as Chrome & Safari, via "Connectors.") Download the Bluebook or other styles for a head start in formatting. The Z. Smith Reynolds library has a few video tutorials on using Zotero with their databases.
  • Mendeley
    This reference manager also allows you to annotate PDFs, store information about print resources, and collaborate with colleagues. It is also a free download, and can generate bibliographies in Bluebook format.
  • Database Folders & Research Trails
    Databases you need to log in to often allow users to access their search history (Westlaw's Research Trail or Lexis's History). Databases you access through the library's page may also allow you to set up a username & password to collect documents and track search results. Look for something like "My Folders" or "My Bookbag" - the names might vary, but the services are pretty standard.

Sharing Documents

There are several ways to share documents among collaborators, depending on needs such as version control and privacy.

  • TWEN
    Your professor may have a TWEN course set up to share research results. If available, you can post documents of all kinds into folders to keep information available to all team members. Files will be stamped with the date & time of upload and the identity of the uploader. Learning to upload is quick and easy with this video.
  • Dropbox
    Dropbox allows users to maintain and sync files between multiple computers, so you always have the newest version at your fingertips. In addition, Dropbox permits users to share folders, so all team members have the same material available.
  • Google Docs
    Google Docs is a great way to have multiple people contribute to a document at the same time. These can include basic word processing, spreadsheets, or presentations. The owner/creator of a document can allow other people to view or edit the documents. Did you know you can store PDFs in Google Docs, too?

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