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Paralegal Studies: Encyclopedias

Reference Books Online

Below are a few places you can find definitions and encyclopedia articles. Remember that you will have to login with your myNOVA username and password (the same ones you use to access Blackboard, student email, etc.) to use these resources when not on campus.

NexisUni (formerly LexisNexis): Legal Reference

1)  In Nexis Uni, click on the Menu dropdown in the upper left and select "All Sources." 

2)  In the Category filter, click on More and select Law Reviews & Journals.


3)  In the Category section, select either Dictionaries or Jurisprudence (or select both by clicking on "Select multiple").

4)  Select one of the sources to search in ("Add source as search filter").

Search Tips

Use broad terms, as encyclopedias usually provide general overviews of topics.

judicial system

Use quotation marks ( "  " ) around phrases (two or more words); this tells the database to look for the words in a specific order.

"civil procedure"

Why to Use Reference Books

An encyclopedia is a type of reference book. Use a reference book to:

  • Define important vocabulary words related to your topic,
  • Find a basic overview and main issues related to your topic,
  • Find references to additional resources, and
  • Discover important background information related to your topic.

You will typically not use a reference book or encyclopedia as a source in your research.  The information in these sources is for your own background knowledge.