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Finding Journals: Using Lexis, Westlaw, Hein and Other Databases

A guide to finding journals and journal articles at IALS

Finding journals

Browsing database titles

A quick way to see which databases are available at IALS is through Law Databases. Here the databases are listed alphabetically with useful background information about their content and ways to access them. It is also possible to do a title or keyword search on the main library catalogue. This guide gives you a basic introduction to three of the most popular guides. It is important to note and remember that these electronic resources, particularly Lexis + and Westlaw, are only available for use by academic staff, students and researchers, and not for legal practitioners. Please consult Law Databases  to see which databases are freely available to all users.

Onsite or offsite access?

IALS Library is not able to offer offsite access to Lexis/Westlaw to students based at the University of London Colleges and other universities.  Ask your college library about offsite access to these databases. However, many other databases are available remotely. For full details of the resources available offsite, please check the accompanying link. Please ask at your own college about offsite access to Lexis and Westlaw.

Offsite (remote) access to online resources

Finding articles on Westlaw


The opening screen on Westlaw provides access to UK and European Union journals only. To find articles for other jurisdictions, please select Services from the toolbar at the top of the screen. A drop down will allow you to select the Directory which will take you to the International and US collections.This introductory guide focuses on the UK and EU journals.

Select the journals option at the top of the Westlaw screen. When searching for UK  journal articles on Westlaw, it is important to note the following points.


  • Westlaw includes the valuable search tool Legal Journals Index which allows you to search by keyword across a huge selection of journals. However not all the journal articles will be available in full text. Don't give up! Many of the articles will be available within IALS Library either as a printed resource or on a different database.

  • The collection of full text journals held by Westlaw is completely different to the collection on Lexis +. This only applies to UK and European titles, not American journals.

  • If you are searching for a phrase which needs to be in the text of an article, always use inverted commas. Eg. "child negligence"

  • Try using subject keywords offered by Westlaw as this may give you a more focused search.


Finding articles on Lexis +

Lexis has now made it possible to search for both UK and some US/international articles from the front screen without the need to browse individual sources in detail. The following points may help you to start your research.

  • The quick search screen on the left will only cover UK journals. It is useful if you already have a particular article to find. For more search opportunities including access to US/international titles, please click on the journals option in the top bar.


  • Journals Index *PLUS* is similar to Legal Journals Index on Westlaw. It started in January 1995 but the coverage is not identical for all the journal titles. Some of the articles will not be offered in full text but you can check the IALS Library catalogue to see if the title is held in printed or online format within the library.


  • Journals Index *PLUS* also searches some US journals from the previous ten years. Click on "What do we cover?" to view the titles included.


  • An International Journals section gives you quick access to search further US, Australian and international titles.


  • Lexis does not require use of inverted commas when you are searching for a phrase


Finding articles on HeinOnline

Hein Online is a valuable resource which differs from Lexis and Westlaw. Important points to note include the following:

  • Text of the journal articles is not in electronic format but is presented as a photographic image of the printed journal. This means that a keyword search may not be as effective. You may prefer to use Lexis or Westlaw for a keyword search.


  • Hein will always give you access from the beginning of a journal series but does not usually offer full text access to the latest volume. In comparison, Lexis/Westlaw will have the current year but usually do not offer the earlier vols.


  • The focus of Hein's collections is US journals but it is being expanded and has an increasing number of UK and international titles. Eg.  Modern Law Review.


  •  IALS staff/researchers and University of London LLM students may access Hein from home.


  • Accessing a journal on Hein: A quick way to do this is via the IALS catalogue. Most titles held on Hein will have a record on the IALS catalogue even if IALS does not hold the printed journal. Try the example below to see how to find articles in this journal. It is very convenient when you have a specific citation.