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Research Strategies for Successful Completion of Your Upper Level Writing Requirement: Articles - Legal

Introduction - Why Articles & Why Indexes

If you are writing a major paper or law review piece, you'll want to look at law journal articles both to see what other scholars are saying, and to find leads to cases, statutes, books, articles, and other documents that could help with your research.

To find articles, try any or all of the tools mentioned on this page. The more different tools and search techniques you use, the more useful information you will find. Useful search techniques might include key word searches, subject (or "descriptor") searches, and case-name and statute-name searches.

Indexes allow very thorough and very precise searching but may not themselves contain the full-text of articles. When dealing with an abstract of an article, rather than a full-text of the article, be sure to take careful note of the citation so that you can find the full-text of the article.  Some of the more common indexes used for legal research are listed below. 

The Index to Legal Periodicals in print includes citations to almost all articles from almost every U.S. law review or journal. Searches using broad, general terms — searches that would likely fail in full-text search tools — often succeed in Index to Legal Periodicals in print.

Using the print version of the Index to Legal Periodicals can be cumbersome so it is often recommended that students use the online equivilent to the print index, the Wilson Index To Legal Periodicals and Books, available online via Ebsco.

Both LexisNexis and Westlaw provide access to the Legal Resources Index, another leading index used to find law reveiw articles.   LRI is available electronically on the classic versions of LexisNexis or Westlaw.   Both provide citations to law review articles from 1980 to the present as well as citations to selected legal magazines and newspapers.

 Finally, the Current Index to Legal Periodicals provides access to the most recently written articles.  CILP is organized by topic and is published weekly.  We subscribe to the electronic version of CILP.

HeinOnline Law Journal Library

HeinOnline is the largest full-text source for law review articles. You can search it directly, or use it to pull up the full text of articles for which other sources gave only the citations.

"Full Text" Articles on Lexis & Westlaw

Journals & Law Reviews on Westlaw and Lexis Advance are not as comprehensive as you will find via the Index To Legal Periodicals.  The databases will only have articles from the mid-1990's forward.  However, the search syntax and search capabilities are more dynamic with these databases.  

Try both "natural language" and "terms and connectors" searching. If a search retrieves too many articles to review, the narrowing features are available in the panel on the left hand side of the screen in both Westlaw and Lexis Advance or you can choose a specific database to search.  Unlike some of the indexes discussed in other sections of this guide, Westlaw and Lexis Advance will provide full-text versions of the articles.

Click the links below for access to law reviews and journals on the classic version of LexisNexis.

SSRN & Google Scholar

Social Science Research Network (SSRN) is devoted to the dissemination of social science research and is composed of a number of specialized research networks in each of the social sciences, including the law.  A researcher can conduct searches from the SSRN search page to find articles of interest.

Google Scholar, while not comprehensive, provides a quick way to get a cross-disciplinary set of articles. It can be especially useful as you start your research and are still refining your search terms.

With Advanced Search you can limit by date or by subject area (such as "Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities"). For search tips and advice, see Google Scholar Help and the Advance Scholar Search Tips.

Google Scholar Search