Exploring Planet SOSIG: Law, Statistics and Demography
(Planet SOSIG continues its review of the main SOSIG subject sections, highlighting the resources that the Internet can offer to those working in the different fields of the social sciences. In this edition, we describe two sections of SOSIG: 1) the Law Section and 2) the Statistics and Demography Section.
Sue Pettit is a law librarian at the University of Bristol and is the Law section editor for SOSIG. Her article gives an overview of the resources likely to be found in the law section and a glimpse at the selection criteria she employs.
Wendy White and Janette Cochrane are librarians working in the Hartley Library at the University of Southampton. They have been developing the Statistics and Demography Sections of SOSIG (with help from colleagues) for a few hours each week since May 1997. Wendy concentrates on statistics resources and Janette concentrates on demography resources. Their article describe the types of resources users can expect to find in their respective sections
1) The Law Section of SOSIG
There is much legal information available on the Internet and, before looking at the detailed subject breakdown on SOSIG, it may be helpful to consider the main types of information provider.
Governmental, non-governmental and academic organisations have a strong presence, and legal publishers are also using the Internet as a means of delivering information.
Only sites that provide useful information free of charge are added to SOSIG, e.g. Casebase , where transcripts of cases can be freely searched after one month but a subscription must be paid to access the most recent material. In general, the link on SOSIG is to a specific free service offered by a publisher, not to its home page.
Listings by publisher’s name can be found via the large link sites e.g. Hieros Gamos . There are many commercial sites being produced as law firms start to use the Internet as a means of advertising. These will be included where they are likely to be of use to researchers, e.g. articles or journals are available on the site.
Legal resources on the Internet are described and assigned a subject classification within the Law section of SOSIG. There is a general Law section , plus narrower sections such as International Law and Human rights. Some of these sections have been subdivided further, e.g. Criminology appears as a sub-section of Criminal law.
The laws of particular jurisdictions are available to differing extents on the Internet, reflecting in part the varying approaches to freedom of information in different countries.
UK legislation and law reports can be found in the Law section. All other jurisdictions are placed in the Individual jurisdictions section. EC law can be found under European Union law, whereas law of the individual European countries is under Individual jurisdictions.
Resources under the Law heading include:
Full Text Primary Sources for the United Kingdom
- Acts of Parliament 
- Statutory Instruments 
- Statutory Rules of Northern Ireland 
- House of Lords judgments 
- Transcripts of Court of Appeal and Crown Office cases (Casebase) 
Some are full text electronic journals, e.g. Web Journal of Current Legal Issues , while others give details of contents, abstracts, contact details, e.g. Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization . FINDLAW  gives listings of a wide range of electronic journals (select Law reviews)
- Official bodies, e.g. Law Commission  gives general information plus full text publications
- Academic and research organisations, e.g. NCLE (National Centre for Legal Education)  provides information about UK legal education.
- Professional bodies, e.g. Law Society 
Current Awareness and Indexing Sites
Mailing List Archives
A way to keep up to date on recent developments (to filter your search use the SOSIG extended search option "Type of resource" and look for "MAILARCHIVE").
A few of the most important link sites are included for use when a particular resource has not been added to SOSIG, e.g. Sarah Carter’s Law Links  and Legal Information Institute, Cornell University .
Future developments planned for the Law section of SOSIG include a more detailed subject breakdown of the browsing pages and more links to individual full text documents.
If you have any views on these developments, or have other suggestions on ways to improve the Law section, please contact me
Author details: Sue Pettit
University of Bristol
- The Statistics with Demography Section of SOSIG
Statistics Resources on SOSIG
The most effective way of finding statistics material on a particular topic is to use the search facility. Regular users of SOSIG should find the "what’s new" section a good way of locating new resources. As well as trying to provide overall coverage of a range of statistical sources I also try to be topical, so if a world event is likely to promote interest in a particular area I do try to strengthen this element in the database. Any suggestions for additions are always very welcome and help to provide a picture of research activity (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The current categories for browsing material are international statistics, local statistics, national statistics, official statistics, regional statistics and statistical theory. Just as I find it helpful to browse books in sections in bookshops I also find it helpful to browse subject gateways. If I want to buy a book on cookery I don’t want to have to look through poetry to do it. It seems to me that at the moment we are asking you to do just that. As government statistics are increasingly collected by a variety of agencies, contractors and businesses, how helpful is a division between "official" and "national" statistics"? Any country reporting on exports, tourism or banking is automatically giving "international" information. I am looking to restructure this facility to save search time and lead to more relevant information. It seems more sensible to talk of country information e.g. "I am looking for unemployment figures for the UK". I will want an authoritative source which I can choose from a range of providers. Also it may be better to browse by resource format. I know I am looking for a mailing list to join which posts discussions about statistical theory so I would much rather look at mailing lists than wade through journals, organisations etc. If you have a view on restructuring the browse facility please let me know (email@example.com).
Types of Resource
Most countries have an official statistics site which carries basic economic indicators, socio-economic statistics and cultural information. Some sites are very detailed and carry a host of tables, reports and graphs e.g. Statistics Singapore  which is typical of the diversity of information carried: press releases, statistical standards, latest annual indicators, historical data series and a business directory. The U.S. has a number of agencies connected to government departments e.g. Bureau of Economic Analysis (US)  is linked to the Department of Commerce. This prepares estimates on aspects of the U.S. economy.
There are, of course, a host of these. I will just emphasise two growth areas. There are an expanding number of banks that have useful websites with the range of financial infomation that you would expect e.g. Central Bank of Jordan  includes a monthly statistical bulletin and a directory of financial institutions. Subject based societies are also common e.g. American Cancer Society: cancer statistics 1998.  This has statistics by cancer type, new cases, deaths, risk factors, survival rates, age and sex as well as special sections on smoking and diet.
University departments offer a range of information from research outlines to publications. A site at the Nanyang Technological University, Statistical Data Locators,  provides access to country based data from around the world with clear geographical sections.
e.g. Data Archive (UK)  which houses the largest collection of accessible computer-readable data in the social sciences and humanities in the United Kingdom.
Publications/Discussion Papers/ Journals
Again there are a range of these. One key publication is the OECD Observer.  This bi-monthly publication covers world economic and social issues and carries an annual supplement "OECD in figures" with over 60 pages of statistical information.
There are discussion lists and current awareness lists e.g. bopcas-statistics mailing list archive.  This is an alerting service which delivers you a list of recent UK offical publications.
This is an end-user service, but to what ends? I feel service providers, including us, still know too little about the range of research needs. How can we improve communication so that there is a constant cycle of provision, utilisation and improvement? As a section-editor I would like to develop closer links with those of you using the section in order to make effective alterations and additions. The medium of the web makes for easy access and quick links but the "added value" of SOSIG, the organisation and selection of resources, will only be effective if we are prepared to share in its interactive potential in a personal as well as a technological way.
Demography Resources on SOSIG
Demography is a sub section of the Statistics section in SOSIG. It is not easy to sum up the wealth of demographic resources in a few paragraphs. Whole articles have been devoted to describing demographic web resources (McCracken 1996, Gryn 1997, Malsawma 1997).
Types of Resources within Demography
At present there are around 140 Web sites in SOSIG's demography section covering a range of demographic resources. The resources described here attempt to illustrate this range.
Guides to Demographic Resources
- World Wide Web Virtual Library Demography and Population Studies 
- This Web site maintained by the Australian National University (ANU) is selective and aims to "keep track of leading information facilities of value and /or significance to researchers in the field of demography."
- Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (Nidi) 
- This Web site aims to provide a comprehensive overview of demographic resources on the web.
Population Research Centres in Universities
A wide range of such centres is included in the Demography section. A typical Web site will include details of research being carried out, staff of the Centre and facilities available, details of publications including working papers, and often extensive lists of links to related Web sites.
- Center for Demography and Ecology University of Wisconsin-Madison 
- Centre for Population Studies at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine 
(This Web site includes extensive well-organised lists of links.)
- Population Index on the Web 
This is the online version of Population Index. It covers all fields of interest to demographers from 1986 onwards. It can be searched in a variety of ways in addition to free text searching.
- Annotated Bibliography of Canadian Demography 
Produced at the Population Studies Centre at the University of Western Ontario - covers research into Canada's population
In addition to the sites highlighted above there are also sites devoted to:
- Demographic data, for example
Integrated Public Use Microdata Series ( IPUMS 98 ) 
This contains samples of American population data
- Software to manipulate data, for example
- Organisations and Societies, for example
Population Association of America 
Plans for the Future
In addition to continuing to seek out suitable demographic sites, we will be looking at ways of dividing up the "browse section" (which at present is one long alphabetical list of sites) in ways most helpful to users of the site. If there are any sites which you would like to see added or if you have ideas about dividing up the browse section we would be pleased to hear from you.
McCracken,K (1996) Resources for Population Studies on the World Wide Web. Issues 37, p. 47-53
Gryn,T ( 1997) Internet Resources for Demographers. Population Index 63 (2), p. 189-204
A Web version is available at:
Malsawma, Z ( 1996): A guide to population-related home pages on the World Wide Web, Population Today 21 (10), p. 4-5
We would like to acknowledge the help we have received from our colleagues at Southampton SIMON BRACKENBURY and GAIL McFARLANE in the development of the Statistics with Demography site.
SOSIG is available at http://www.sosig.ac.uk/
University of Southampton
Tel: 01703 593451
Southampton SO17 1BJ Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel:( 01703 ) 593893