Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Articles for Legal and Non-Legal Research

This is a quick guide to scholarly article databases and indexes.

Getting Started

Scholarly legal research includes the consultation of articles in law journals and/or law reviews. The collection at the Georgetown Law Library includes all major law journals and reviews, as well as many non-legal journals, in a combination of print and electronic formats. 

A law journal or law review is a legal periodical that contains scholarly articles, essays, and other commentary on legal topics by professors, judges, law students, and practitioners. Articles in periodicals describe, often in depth, the current state of the law and offer analysis of legal policies, rules, and history. These articles offer extensive footnotes, which cite to primary and secondary sources relevant to the article's topic.

Both legal and non-legal article research is done using article databases. There are two types of article databases: an index or abstract-only database and a full-text database. As implied by their names, index databases usually only provide an article citation and the article's abstract; a full-text database will provide an article's citation, as well as the full-text of that article.  

Scholarly academic articles, both legal and non-legal topics, are collected in many different databases.  These databases are typically organized by topic, or broad academic areas, such as humanities, social sciences, and science.  You also have access to general, or multi-disciplinary, databases that collect articles in many different subject areas.  These databases also collect non-scholarly materials. 

The primary full-text databases for researching legal articles at Williams Law Library are HeinOnline, Westlaw, and Lexis.  In this guide you will find information on the legal and non-legal article databases you have available to you through the Williams Law Library and Lauinger Library. In addition, you can use Interlibrary Loan to access articles not held by Williams Law Library or Lauinger Library. 

When to Use an Index vs a Full-Text Database

This will depend on your research need.  Do you need to find ALL articles on a particular topic?  If so, you will need to use all the full-text and index databases in the subject area.  Do you need a few recent articles on a topic?  A full-text database in the subject area will suffice. 

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Update History

Updated 9/17/14 (MK)
Updated 4/17 (MK)
Updated 8/20 (ROJ)