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Choosing a Research Paper Topic

Preemption Checking (and Furthering Your Research)


A thorough preemption check assures the originality of your article (and helps you along in your research process). Do this as soon as you have identified a topic – don’t wait until you’ve written your article!

Preemption Checking Process

  • Check Law Journal (or other publisher) policies/procedures!
  • Start with bibliographic databases that index all law review/law journal articles.
  • Subject indices are important since law journal articles may not be descriptive enough – puns and clever titles abound!
  • Anticipate the key words or terms of art central to the topic.
  • Use the thesaurus.
  • Full Text Searching
    • Westlaw
      • To determine what has already been written on a particular topic, run a Natural Language search such as the following in one of the practice-area databases such as Criminal Justice – Law Reviews, Texts, and Bar Journals: "death penalty for juveniles"
    • LexisNexis
    • HeinOnline
  • Articles not yet printed – faculty articles only
  • Set up Westlaw and/or LexisNexis alerts
    • Example – watch for law review articles about the death penalty as applied to juveniles by creating an alert such as "death /5 penalty /p juvenile minor in a journals/law reviews database"
  • HeinOnline Scholar Check
    • HeinOnline's ScholarCheck is a series of tools and features integrated throughout various HeinOnline libraries that allow you to view journal articles that have a heavy influence on the subject you are researching. 
    • Quickly identify the leading (maybe most controversial) articles on a topic.
    • Example: juvenile death penalty