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Legal Research Basics: Secondary Sources: Law Reviews & Journals

General characteristics of major secondary sources in legal research

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Full Text Periodicals

What is it?

Law review and law journal articles are lengthy, scholarly articles written by experts in the field on a variety of legal topics.  Most law journals are published by law schools, but the category of legal periodicals also includes publications by bar associations and other legal organizations.  The full-text of journal articles can nowadays be found in several different locations, both in print and electronically.

Characteristics:

  • Written by experts in the field
  • Very detailed analysis of particular issues in law
  • Contain many references to expand research
  • Not regularly cited in legal arguments (although that is not always true, especially when a new legal argument is being presented)

Locating full-text journal articles:

Because so many can be found electronically, many libraries are reducing the size of their print periodical collections.  The following are several electronic resources for locating the full text of law review and journal articles:

Periodical Indexes

What is it?

Periodical indexes provide the bibliographical information about an enormous number of law journal articles.  For the most part, your search results will retrieve the bibliographical information (author, article title, journal title, date) only, rather than the full text of the article.  However, because these indexes are so limited in the content they provide, they generally can index many more law journals than can a traditional full-text database.  This means a search in a periodical index may retrieve more article titles than a search in a full-text database.  With the bibliographical information, you can then track down the article elsewhere. 

Characteristics:

  • Typically contain information on a much larger volume of law journal articles
  • Typically do not contain full-text access to those articles

Locating periodical indexes:

IUCAT

Find journals (not articles) using IUCAT (online library catalog for Indiana University)

  • From IUCAT’s main search box, choose Title, and type in the title of the journal.  If you are sure of the title, enclose it in quotation marks, e.g., “Indiana Law Journal.”  Click the search button.
    • Note: This allows you to search for a journal by its title; you cannot perform a search for a specific article in IUCAT.
  • From the left sidebar you can limit your search to “Online Only” and apply the following filters:
    • Format – choose Journal/Periodical
    • Library – choose Bloomington – Law Library
  • From your list of results, choose the record for the online or print version of the journal
    • The IUCAT record provides location and holdings information for a journal