Begin Step-by-Step Research -- Research Tips
Obviously this tip doesn't apply if you actually need to research the history of a specific law. But if you are trying to pick a law to research for a class assignment about legislative histories, you can search the Legislative Histories file at ProQuest Congressional by keyword.
To keep the research assignment manageable, generally avoid selecting anything that is part of an omnibus or appropriations law because it will usually be much more difficult to wade through the various issues.
It is generally easy to find out who favored the law (and why) because it received a majority of the votes to become law. What may be more difficult is determining who opposed it and why. To improve the likelihood that sufficient documentation exists for discussing the pros and cons of the law, select a law with at least one committee report and at least one committee hearing. More reports and hearings are preferred. What you're particularly looking for are minority/dissenting views listed at the ends of the reports and testimony in the hearings that opposes or questions some aspect of the proposed bill.
Although you can compile a legislative history about any law, the research will probably be easier if the law was enacted between 1989 and 2008 because of online tools such as the bill tracking report in step 4.
See the potential research problems about selecting a law that is "not actually a Public Law."
After you've picked a Public Law, hold off on exploring the details of the various LexisNexis files until after you've completed steps 2 through 3.
Some useful encyclopedias include:
To determine the number of the Public Law, use one of the following:
Two other listings of federal laws by name are
As a bare minimum, complete steps 1 through 3 and verify whether or not the law you've selected to research meets your instructor's guidelines. Some students switch laws several times before identifying a law with sufficient documentation to answer all of the assignment questions, but not one that has an overwhelming amount of documentation to review.