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Successful Summer Strategies: Research in the Real World: Administrative Research

Research in the Real World Starts Here. Use this guide to orient yourself to the world and research environment.

Citation Formats

Citing the Code of Federal Regulations:

In the Bluebook, see Rule 14.2 and Table T.1.

  • Citation by section: 21 C.F.R. § 2.10 (2001).
  • Citation by part: 21 C.F.R. pt. 2 (2001).

The year is taken from the title page of the volume in which the rules are printed, in this case, “Revised as of April 1, 2001.”

Citing the Federal Register:

In the Bluebook, see Rule 14.2 and Table T.1.

  • Final rule: 66 Fed. Reg. 19387 (Apr. 16, 2001) (to be codified at 14 C.F.R. pt. 39).
  • Proposed rule: 66 Fed. Reg. 19403 (proposed Apr. 16, 2001) (to be codified at 40 C.F.R pt. 258).

Using a Looseleaf

A print looseleaf service is usually a multi-volume set of books that is published in binder format to facilitate frequent updating and devoted to a heavily regulated area of law such as employment, tax, securities, environment, and areas of health care law such as  Medicare/Medicaid. Topical services contain the same information in electronic format.  These services often contain the full text of primary sources such as statutes, regulations and other agency materials, and administrative and judicial opinions, as well as commentary, making them highly useful to the researcher.  Not all books published in binder form are looseleaf services.  Some treatises or newsletter-based publications also appear in this format but lack the comprehensive coverage or currency of a true looseleaf service.

Most of our looseleaf titles in print are integrated into the treatise collection.  We have a number of looseleaf services available on our website under Subject-Specific Databases.

General Tips

Do Background Research: Use a government agency directory, treatise, or looseleaf service to get an overview of the structure and sources of the area of law by:

  • Identifying the enabling act or other relevant legislation;
  • Determining what administrative agency or agencies (state, federal, and/or local) are involved in rulemaking and/or adjudication, and their relationship if more than one is involved; and
  • Identifying the types of pronouncements/documents the relevant agency or agencies issue.
  • Go to the agency's website as many federal and state agencies put extensive primary source materials there.

Take Note Of Procedural Rules: Determine whether the relevant agency or agencies have their own sets of procedural rules that must be followed and whether these will play a role in your research.

Find Out What Published Sources Are Available:

  • Both Lexis and Westlaw have extensive specialized materials for various areas of law practice.
  • If there is a looseleaf service in the field, consult it early in the process.  Treatises also sometimes contain sections that reprint primary source materials. 
  • If a relevant agency has its own official reporter, find out whether the hard copy format is available or whether it is online. Agencies that adjudicate often publish their decisions on their web pages.

Update Thoroughly: Precise updating is especially important with administrative materials, which may change more frequently and more quickly than statutory or case law. Familiarize yourself with the sources for updating federal and state administrative materials.

Use Informal Sources: Be aware of the "informal" nature of much agency practice. Personal contact by telephone or e-mail with individuals involved in rulemaking or adjudicatory activity may be essential to obtaining complete and accurate information on the topic being researched. Many print or electronic sources of documents will provide names of contact persons whose help and advice may be invaluable.

Federal Administrative Law Research

Print Sources:  CFR (the Code of Federal Regulations), the topical compilation of federal regulations currently in force, can be searched via its own official subject index, published in the last volume of the set, or via the unofficial subject index published as part of the U.S. Code Service (U.S.C.S.) Both indices also contain a table that provides cross-references from U.S. Code sections to C.F.R. sections promulgated under that statutory authority.  The Federal Register (the daily publication that contains proposed and final new and amended regulations), has indexing available.  It is also often used in conjunction with the LSA (List of Sections Affected) to locate pending or final changes to existing regulations.

Electronic Sources:

  • Lexis and Westlaw:  Both Lexis and Westlaw provide the current full text of C.F.R. and the Federal Register. Both systems also contain superseded versions of C.F.R. back to the early 1980s in separate databases/sources. Federal Register coverage goes back to 1980 on both systems. On both systems, an alternative to searching the full text of C.F.R. and/or F.R. is to search the versions available in the specialized "area of practice" sources/databases. Because these contain only the titles pertinent to a particular area of law, search with caution in order to avoid missing relevant material.
  • The GPO (Government Publishing Office) FDsys site provides search and updating capability for both the C.F.R. and Federal Register. Also check individual agency websites.

Wyoming and Other State Administrative Law Research

Print Sources: The Code of Wyoming Rules publishes Wyoming agency regulations in topical order in a looseleaf binder format.  An index volume is available. The monthly publication, Wyoming Government Register publishes proposed and newly promulgated rules of state agencies.

Westlaw & Lexis: Many state administrative codes and registers are available, as well as other materials such as agency decisions, and coverage is steadily expanding. Administrative materials can be searched by individual state or in multi-state combined or combined topical databases. Coverage varies between the two systems and among the various states within each system.

Wyoming Administrative Materials on Westlaw and Lexis:  Both provide the full text of Wyoming regulations and a few select state agency decisions.

Other Wyoming Agency Materials Online:

  • Wyoming regulations are available on the Wyoming Secretary of State's website.
  • State agency web sites also link to agency information and documents.

Other State Materials Online: