Preemption Checks
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As part of your topic evaluation process, you will want to make sure your contribution will be unique and that there is not a forthcoming change in law that would render your argument meaningless. The University of Notre Dame Law Library's Guide: Preemption Checking includes search suggestions and advise on determining how comprehensively to search. Suggested sources for conducting a preemption check follow.

Periodical Indexes

Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals, indexing from 1960 to present. Available in print on the index tables.

Index to Legal Periodicals. This database provides indexing from 1980 forward and some full-text, including some PDFs. The print version of Index to Legal Periodicals, available on the index tables, provides indexing from 1908 to present. Available in print on the index tables.

Legal Journals Index, a Westlaw database (LJI) indexing from 1986 to present. Indexes "articles from legal journals published in the United Kingdom and Europe and journals covering topics pertaining to the laws of the European Community and of its Member States."

LegalTrac, indexing from 1980 to present. Also available on Westlaw (LRI) and Lexis (Legal Resource Index).  The print title, Current Law Index, is available at the start of the bound periodicals on second floor.

Full-Text Articles

Westlaw: TP-ALL. The "database contains documents from law reviews, texts, American Law Reports (ALR), legal encyclopedias (American Jurisprudence 2d and Corpus Juris Secundum), CLE course materials, bar journals and legal practice-oriented periodicals." The coverage dates depend on the title.

LexisNexis Law Reviews & Journals. The LexisNexis law review and journal directory page offers options to search U.S. only materials, U.S. and canada materials, or law reviews by subject, among other choices.

Multi-Disciplinary and Non-Legal Databases

See the Cowles Library Databases for relevant sources beyond the discipline of law. Databases are listed alphabetically and by subject (with other resources). Notable sources include
  • Academic Search Complete - EBSCO provides full-text and indexing for thousands of journals and other scholarly works in a wide-range of disciplines.
  • Biological Abstracts - EBSCO contains bibliographic references to life science journal literature published internationally. Links to some full text where available.
  • JSTOR, offers "the complete journal runs (excluding the most recent 2-5 years) of over 500 journal titles in over 20 academic disciplines." 
  • provides breaking news, extended features and analysis in the sciences.
  • Project MUSE, offers access to the full-text of 200 scholarly journals published by Johns Hopkins University and other university presses. 
  • SCOPUS indexes over 15,000 peer-reviewed journals in the scientific, technical, medical, and social science literature (from over 4,000 international publishers). Abstracts go back to 1966. References go back to 1996. Some coverage dates back as far as 1841. 
  • Wiley InterScience offers access to the full-text of over 300 journals in business, chemistry, education, life sciences, and more. 
Works in Progress and Very Recent Publications

The Law Library's Current Awareness page includes resources for finding preprints and other scholarly works in progress.

Other Web Publications

As institutional scholarly repositories and class Web sites proliferate, searching with at least one popular search engine, like Google, may reveal papers not included in the repositories linked from the Current Awareness page. 

In addition, it may be useful to search OAIster, an established catalog of digital resources. 

Changes in Law

In addition to the law-related current awareness and legal news sources listed above, the following resources can help you assess whether your topic risks legal action that would render it meaningless.

Supreme Court of the United States. The Court's official site includes its docket and orders. Search both sections by party name to see if a certiorari petition has recently been filed, granted, or denied.

THOMAS. The Library of Congress federal legislative site offers information about current Congressional activities.

Prepared by Karen Wallace, Circulation/Reference Librarian
Last Revised: July 2009, SL
Please feel free to e-mail author with suggestions on improving this guide.

Last Modified: 7/29/2009 1:31:00 PM by David Hanson