Journal articles can be an excellent source for researching narrower, more specialized legal topics. Articles published in law journals typically include extensive footnotes with citations to primary and secondary sources that are relevant to the topic. Two types of tools for conducting journal article research are described below:
- Journal indexes include bibliographic information about articles, such as titles, the names of the authors, and the names of the journals in which the articles appeared, as well as one or more subject descriptors. Searching in a journal index usually retrieves more relevant articles than searching in a full-text database because the searches are run only on the bibliographic data and the subject descriptors.
- Full-text journal databases allow you to search within the entire texts of articles. Most also include bibliographic information. It is easier to run searches in full-text databases than using journal indexes, but they tend to retrieve many irrelevant articles.
Many periodical indexes are discussed in the library’s guide to Articles for Legal and Non-Legal Research. Major indexes include Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals and Legal Journals Index. Some journals may not be included in any of the standard indexes.
Full-text databases for journal articles are available through HeinOnline, Westlaw, Lexis, Oxford Journals Online, and Kluwer Law Online, among others.