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Journal Cite Checking Guide: Topic Selection Resources

This guide is intended to assist journal members in locating print, PDF, or page image versions of cited materials for sourcing assignments.

Introduction

Often times choosing a suitable topic proves to be the most difficult part of writing a law journal note or comment. A suitable topic is one that is both of current interest in the legal community and one that is of interest to the author. But where does one find such a topic? This page provides links to existing resources that outline sources and techniques for locating  a topic in an effective and efficient manner. There are a myriad of resources available to students.  This page divides resources into the following categories: Books, scholarly articles, guides from legal database providers and freely-available internet resources

Words of Wisdom

If you need help locating a topic it would behoove you to check with an expert like a professor or someone you might work for. If you know what topic or area of law you are interested in, the big three (Lexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg) have plenty of newsletters and current awareness tools to point you to hot topics, circuit splits, seminal cases and new legislation that might be worth writing about. Some of those sources are noted below.

For what it’s worth, whatever you choose to write on, make sure it’s a topic that you want to live with for a long time. You don’t want to sit down after a long hard day to re-edit something that doesn't interest you. Beyond that, once you become an expert on something there is a realistic possibility that your career choices may be guided by that expertise.

Academic Texts

Scholarly Articles

Eugene Volokh, Writing a Student Article, 48 J. Legal Educ. 247 (1998)

Richard Delgado, How to Write a Law Review Article, 20 U. San Francisco L. Rev. 445 (1986).

Heather Meeker, Stalking the Golden Topic: A Guide to Locating and Selecting Topics for Legal Research Papers, 1996 Utah L. Rev. 917 (1996).  This article gives practical advice on how to identify a strong topic for academic legal writing and describes a preemption check process

Resources from Commercial Services

Internet Resources

There are many fine articles, blog posts, research guides and videos dedicated to topic selection for law journal. a basic keyword search should suffice. Of particular note here is YouTube. Many librarians and vendor representatives (Lexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg) have recorded their sessions and these may be located online.

Subject Guide