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When to stop

It is important to know when to stop your research. Generally, you have reached the end when you keep coming across the same material, and nothing both new and relevant is turning up.

What if you have not found anything relevant? Before you decide that you have exhausted all avenues:

  • discuss the problem with someone: a different view may lead you to another approach
  • consider whether you have characterized the issues properly
  • consider whether the keywords you used in indices and on-line searches were the right ones
  • consider whether the approach you have taken is too narrow
    • look for cases dealing with broad general principles and formulate an argument from them
    • think of analogous situations that might apply
    • look for novel approaches by studying treatises, periodical literature, and the law of other jurisdictions
  • review legal research guides for information about additional sources