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Journal Resources: Choosing a Note Topic: Avoiding Preemption

This guide identifies resources that will help you identify and define a topic for your journal note.

Seven Step Guide

STEP ONE: Index to Legal Periodicals

Search the Index to Legal Periodicals and Books.
This first step is the best place to start because this database covers almost every law review article written in the United States since 1982. When you search this database you are searching only Titles, Authors and subject descriptors. Keep your search terms broad, if you are writing on a single specific case or statute, include it in the search. Results are returned by relevance, so change the results ranking to "Date Newest" to see the most recent articles

Example search: Standing and "Endangered Species Act"

If articles on your topic may have been published prior to 1982, then make sure you search the historical version of Index to Legal Periodicals and Books. To search the historical index, go to the EBSCO Select Resource page, then click "EBSCOhost Research Databases", and then click "Index to Legal Periodicals Retrospective: 1908-1981".

STEP TWO:  Full Text Law Reviews

Search HeinOnline Law Journals
Search Westlaw Law Reviews and Journals.
Search Lexis Law Reviews and Journals.
For a full text search try to come up with search terms that are specific to your article, keep your terms narrow and focused. Sort by "Date" to get the most recent articles.

Example search: Standing /p "Endangered Species Act" /p trees

STEP THREE: Google Scholar

Search Google Scholar.
Google Scholar performs a "Google Search" of  articles published in Law Review databases (including HeinOnline) as well as other academic databases, open source scholarship websites, Google Books and online academic repositories.

Example search: trees and standing and "endangered species act"

Access to articles on Google Scholar depends upon the library's current online subscriptions and if you are on or off campus. Be sure to set your Google Scholar Preferences (-->see the box to your right -->). If you are unable to access articles that you find on Google Scholar, please contact a Reference Librarian for help.


Search SSRN
Search Google
SSRN is a repository for developing scholarship-- articles in pre-publication or drafts of articles. Recent scholarship to be published in Law Reviews is very likely to turn up in SSRN. Since the search engine on SSRN is very primitive and its results are not reliable, try using Google Scholar or a Google search with to locate these articles

Example search on SSRN: trees and standing

Example search on Google: trees and standing and "Endangered Species Act"

STEP FIVE: Non-Legal Journal Databases

Search Proquest Central.
Search JSTOR.
Search Academic Search Complete.
Search Business Source Complete.
Does your topic cover a non-legal issue, such as business, economics or social science? Use these databases to search in non-law journals.  There is also overlap to law reviews in these databases.

Example search: trees and standing and "endangered species act"

STEP SIX: Books (and Book Chapters)

If a book (or book chapter) may have been published about your topic, then you should search the UC Law SF Library Catalog. You should also search WorldCat to locate books not available at the UC Law SF Library.

STEP SEVEN: Your Results/Additional Help

Analyze the information you located above to make sure that an article on your topic hasn't already been published. If your topic merits publication, then use the print and electronic resources at the UC Law SF Library to research your article. The reference librarians at The UC Law SF Library are available to help you plan your research strategy and to help you find the resources that might be useful in writing your article. Good Luck!