LegalTrac & The Wheel of Topics (Tip of the Week)

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By Ken Fox

LegalTrac is an American-based index of journal articles, legal reviews, and news sources, including materials from the Commonwealth, EU, and elsewhere. As of February 27 it contains 1,810,147 records published from 1980 to 2015, including many full-text articles.

In Saskatchewan, LegalTrac can be accessed via the public library system. In Regina, go to the Regina Public Library site, navigate to E-Library Services, then scroll down to the list of “Categories” and find Law, and link to LegalTrac. You will need to enter your Library card number and PIN – contact the RPL for assistance.

For other parts of the province, access your regional library system and follow a process similar to the above. Ok, just to make things easy, here are the linking pages to access LegalTrac from each of Saskatchewan’s seven Regional Library systems:

I am in Saskatoon, so I will go through the Reference Databases page on the SPL site, and find Government and Law, then go to the LegalTrac login, and enter my library barcode.

Like most legal databases, LegalTrac provides a number of ways to search its vast contents. There is a general search, an Advanced Search, a Publication Search – but the one that really grabs me is the Topic Finder.


I decided to try and locate articles on the topic of spousal support. So in the Topic Finder search, I entered “spousal.” LegalTrac then visualizes the search results as a Wheel (or Tiles, if you prefer) –


So the database provides a graphic representation of all topics related to my search term. This has considerable advantages for occasions when I don’t know exactly what I am looking for, but have a general idea. The graphic brings up unexpected connections and conceptual relations.

In this case, the topic I am interested in, Spousal Support, appears as a separate heading – so I can bring up all the documents that include that phrase –


The top three results are Canadian articles, but the remaining nine are American, perhaps indicating that the database can rank results to suit the location of the researcher.

For more information on legal resources available in Saskatchewan, contact the library.

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