Foreign and Comparative Law Research Guide

Foreign law is the national (also referred to as domestic or internal) law of any country other than the United States and research methods will vary depending on the country you are researching. This guide provides starting points.

Secondary Sources: Journal Articles for Foreign Law Research

Table of Contents

When researching foreign law, journal articles can be an excellent source for learning about narrower, more specialized topics.  Articles published in law journals typically include extensive footnotes with citations, which will help you to locate relevant primary law sources, as well as additional secondary sources.

Finding Articles Published in U.S. Law Journals on Foreign Law Topics

Many U.S. law journals publish articles on foreign law topics, as well as articles that compare legal practices in the U.S. with those in other jurisdictions.  Two types of tools for locating law journal articles are described below.

  • Journal Indexes include bibliographic information about an article, such as the title, the name of the author, and the name of the journal, as well as one or more subject descriptors.  Searching in a journal index usually yields more relevant articles because the searches are run only on the bibliographic data and the subject descriptors.  Frequently used indexes for U.S. law journals include:
  • Full-Text Journal Databases allow you to search by keyword within the entire text of an article.  Most of them also include some bibliographic information.  It is easier to run searches in full-text databases, but they tend to retrieve more irrelevant articles than journal indexes do.  The following research platforms include full-text law journal databases:

For more information on how to use indexes and full-text databases for journal article research, consult the following library research guide:  Articles for Legal and Non-Legal Research.

Finding Articles in Law Journals Published Outside the U.S.

Depending on the topic, it may be helpful to broaden your search to include articles published in non-U.S. law journals.  The journal indexes and databases described below focus primarily on law journals published outside the United States.

  • Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals
    Coverage includes leading law journals published in languages other than English, as well as English language law journals published outside the U.S.  For more information and search tips, consult the Quick Reference Guide.
  • Legal Journals Index (LJI).  LJI is a Westlaw database that focuses primarily on U.K.-based journals but also includes citations to articles from English language journals published elsewhere in Europe.  Bear in mind that many of the articles indexed in LJI are not available in full text on Westlaw.
  • Cambridge Core
    This full-text database provides access to all types of content, including journal articles, published by Cambridge University Press.  After running a search, use the filters on the left to limit by content type, subject, journal name, and date.  To limit searches to law content, click on "Browse by Subject" and then select "Law" as the subject.
  • Kluwer Law Online Journals
    This full-text database allows you to search across 18 English language journals published outside the U.S. that focus on various aspects of international economic law.
  • Oxford Academic Journals Online
    Full-text database for journals published by Oxford University Press.  After running a search, use the filters on the left to limit by article type, subject, journal name, and date.

Retrieving an Article If You Already Have a Citation

If you already have a citation to a journal article, use the resources described below to retrieve the full text.  Keep in mind that electronic access to full-text articles varies by journal.  Some journals are available on multiple electronic platforms, but the dates of coverage often vary.  If the article you are seeking falls outside the dates of coverage for electronic access, you will need to access the journal in print, if available, or request a copy of the article via Inter-Library Loan.

  • Search by Citation
    If the article you are seeking is available in an electronic format from any Georgetown University library, you should be able to quickly retrieve the full text of the article by entering the citation information into this online form.
  • Journal Finder
    If the Search by Citation tool fails to retrieve the full text of the article you are seeking, search for the name of the journal in which the article was published in the Journal Finder.  If the Georgetown Law Library has the journal in print, the Journal Finder will display print holdings and dates of coverage.  It also willing display electronic holdings for the journal, along with the dates of coverage, for all Georgetown University libraries.
  • Inter-Library Loan
    If the article you are seeking is not available print from the Georgetown Law Library, or in an electronic format from any Georgetown University library, you may request a copy of the article from another library by using the Inter-Library Loan (ILL) service.