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Finding Journals: Using the Indexes to Find Journal Articles

A guide to finding journals and journal articles at IALS

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The indexes help you to find journal articles on the shelf and online!

What are the indexes and where will I find them?

The indexes are systematic guides to identifying journal articles by topic, author, date, and article title.  Several indexes are available via Law Databases.  The indexes are an excellent source of information on the law journal literature. They are kept current and updated regularly, and they save you, the researcher, lots of time if you get to know some of them and use them.

The indexes can help you quickly to make a list of articles by a particular author or on a particular topic, or to do a top-up search to see what has been published on your topic in the last 6 months, for instance.

The indexes on Law Databases include:

Legal Journals Index on Westlaw UK, which summarises articles from 800 journals, 70 of which are in full text.  You can find it on the Journals tab in Westlaw UK.  The journals indexed are mainly UK publications.

Index to Legal Periodicals.  This indexes nearly 1000 law journals and other publications published in the US, UK, Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.  So it is a good source to help you identify articles on US law and common law.

Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals, available as part of our Hein subscription at IALS, indexes journal articles about civil law jurisdictions, international law and comparative law.  This is a good place to make a list of journal articles about legal topics in a European country, and many other jurisdictions around the world, or about Islamic law or other legal systems.  It helps you to make a list of articles in French, German, Italian, and other languages. Some titles are full text whre Hein has access.

Doctrinal indexes many journals published in French and about the law of France.  Some of the journals are in full text.

CaseBase (part of LexisNexis Australia) includes an index to Australian law journals. IALS does not subscribe to most of LexisNexis Australia. 

The indexes don't immediately give you the full text of relevant articles, so there are generally two steps to using them:

  1. Find the index that meets your research needs, and do the search on the topic or author of your choice.  You can do a basic search or combine words and phrases from different fields to do a more complex search.  The result will be a list of journal articles, many of which will hopefully be relevant to your research!  You can print the list or send it by e-mail to your e-mail address.
  2. Next, take your list of articles and see if the journals are available at IALS Library or in your college library.  You can check the list of serials or the IALS Library catalogue.  You could also try online sources such as Hein or IBFD, for example.  Remember, there is no one-stop shop to find articles on a topic and it's best to try several sources systematically for good results.

Another important point about the indexes: IALS does not have all the journals which are indexed in the various indexes, but it will have a very good representative selection.


Case study 1

Question: Help! I need to find some journal articles discussing recent decisions of the US Supreme Court on the death penalty. Where do I start?

Answer: A good place to start would be Index to Legal Periodicals. Choose Advanced Search. In the first box, enter "death penalty" or "capital punishment".  In the next box, enter "supreme court".  In the third box, select the field SU subject, and enter "united states". Note that the 3 boxes are linked by AND. Click on Search.  You get a list of many relevant articles.  You can print or save the list, and see if we have the journals at IALS!

Case study 2

Problem: I need to find some journal articles about Islamic law in Germany. Where do I start?

Solution: A good starting point is Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals, and choose multi-field search.  In the first box, enter Islam* or Sharia* or Muslim* - this helps you to search for alternative words.  Adding the asterisks makes the search more flexible, for instance bank* will find bank or banks or banking etc.  In the second box, enter German* and choose "subject heading" from the drop-down list.  Click Search.  You get a list of several relevant articles, most of which are in German, and some of which will be available at IALS.