Comprehensiveness rating: 3 read less
This text is very basic. As a primary source of information it may be adequate if heavily supplemented with information from other sources and used a reference more than a teaching tool. It is the type of text I might use to reduce costs for students if I was going to produces a lot of my own lectures/exercises and handouts because it gives no actual sample on how to conduct a research project from beginning to end. It also lacks an index or glossary. The table of contents gives you a basic idea of the content, but the chapters are fairly spartan. It would be a good text for a general overview of the research process, but has no examples of research problems nor does it provide answers for the few exercises that it suggests. There are links to online exercises, but those require membership and may incur fees for the student.
Accuracy rating: 4
I think the book is written in a fairly unbiased tone and did not notice overt errors. I do think that the text should include information about local jurisdictions and the local rules, UTCR, ORCP, OEC as types of law that need to be considered during research. I have had many cases that turned on technical/procedural issues, and I saw nothing about researching those primary sources or that they even exist.
Relevance/Longevity rating: 3
I think the introductory chapters on the structure of the legal system will be relevant and not require updating. But the links in the electronic research will need to be updated likely if an interface like lexis changes its system.
Clarity rating: 4
The prose is lucid and well written. I found the tone and style inviting without being overly jargon/technical. If anything, I would have liked to see more technical terms in bold and/or put into a glossary/index to be able to be referenced.
Consistency rating: 5
I did not find any problems with inconsistencies. The framework was logical.
Modularity rating: 4
Given the type of book it is I don't think it would be a problem to assign chapters separately or pull out certain sections. However, the very nature of legal research requires a logical progression in understanding. So, I don't know that it would make sense to take things out of order that much. The book has a reasonable amount of subheadings within the chapters. However, I did not see a way to easily cut/paste the book and/or manipulate it outside of simply assigning individual chapters/readings. What I mean is that it was written in a fairly traditional way that I would expect a print text to be laid out. It did not have a presentation as if it was aiding easy modularity like I have seen in other OER or newer texts.
Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 3
The organization and structure was logical. I would have liked to see a LOT more charts and/or figures to break up the text. Also, it would give a better visual understanding of the flow of research and how primary/secondary sources interrelate etc. Legal research is very complex and takes a long time to master. This book is primarily text with very few things separated out visually as charts/tables or even in bold--e.g. glossary terms.
Interface rating: 4
It was free of navigation problems. When I read the book on iBooks it often cut text or charts and did not present well. In PDF form it was awkward.
Grammatical Errors rating: 5
There were no grammar problems that I noticed.
Cultural Relevance rating: 5
There were not a lot of examples that required cultural relevancy because it was mostly about the structure of the legal system, legal authorities and the process of research. I did note that the usage of he/her was interchanged when there was a universal pronoun used and I appreciated that.
I think this book represents a gift as it is OER and want to acknowledge the effort and time it took to create it. I don't want my comments to seem overwhelmingly negative because it is a good text. I don't think it is comprehensive or as useful as a teaching text.