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Preemption Checking for Law Reviews & Journals

Make sure your note, comment, or article is sufficiently original to be published; use this guide to walk through your search for similar scholarship.

A Warning about "Full Text" Law Review Sources

Beware of the so-called "full text" law review databases and sources.

Don't rely on solely on "full text" law review databases and sources on HeinOnline, Lexis, and Westlaw. No "full text" database truly has the text of all published law review and journal articles. You could miss plenty of preempting articles unless you use other article-finding tools — especially indexes — too.

It is particularly risky to limit your preemption check searches to the Lexis and Westlaw "full text" journal sources ("Law Reviews & Journals" on Westlaw and "Law Reviews and Journals" on Lexis). Here's why:

  • Some law reviews are not Lexis and Westlaw at all.
  • Of the law reviews that are Lexis and Westlaw, not every article from every issue appears.
  • Only a handful of law reviews are available on Lexis and Westlaw before the early 1980s. Most law reviews aren't available before the mid-1990s.

HeinOnline's Law Journal Library

HeinOnline's Law Journal Library is almost comprehensive, but it lacks some journals, and sometimes lacks the latest volume of the journals it does have. Also its search engine, while quite powerful, does not readily let you limit your search to articles that are about a case, statute, or subject.

Westlaw & Lexis - Partial Full-Text Databases & Sources

The law review and journal databases and sources on Lexis and Westlaw, while large, are not comprehensive, and are especially sparse before about 1995. And both Lexis and Westlaw have only a handful of articles published before 1980.

Natural language searches in the Lexis and Westlaw article sources, though not dispositive for preemption checks, can surface a selection of in-depth articles that should then cite to other relevant scholarship. Just be sure to combine those searches with terms and connectors searches and with searches in indexes and other sources.

Working Papers

SSRN and bepress specialize in scholarly working papers (articles in progress) and articles recently accepted for publication. Neither is a comprehensive source, but both will help you learn whether you might be preempted by an article that is about to be published.

Legal & Non-Legal Articles - Google Scholar

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.

Is the Journal I Need at USF?

So you have a citation to a great-sounding article — but not direct link to the full text....

How do you tell if the article is available at USF?

Just use USF's "Journal Finder" to look up the title of the journal that published the article. If that journal is available at USF, it will (usually) show up in the journal finder.  

(One caveat: the Journal Finder doesn't tell you if a journal is on Westlaw or on Lexis Advance.)

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