Skip to Main Content

Keeping up-to-date with the law: Articles & papers

Tips for keeping up-to-date with the law in your research area

Keeping up to date with the law

Introduction: Articles & Papers

This part of the guide gives guidance on setting up alerts for new journal articles and research papers in your area.

Subscription databases

If your organisation provides you with a username and password to one of the large legal databases then do make use of the journal alerts features available. The search facility on these databases tends to be much more sophisticated than those available on free, open-access journals databases. For example you can set up a complex search string, search for articles that mention a particular case, or piece of legislation, or that focus on a specific jurisdiction, then add an alert so that you are notified each time an article matching your criteria is added to the database.

Alternatively, you can set up an alert on a journal title so that you receive an email each time a new issue of a particular journal is added to the database. Most large subscription databases will let you set up alerts.


Lexis+, published by LexisNexis, is one of the main legal databases in the UK. It contains about 130 full-text law journals and newsletters, and an index including abstracts from around 150 law journals. An alert can be set up to cover the full-text content, indexed articles or both. A PDF guide to setting up alerts is available here.

Westlaw UK

Westlaw UK, published by Thomson Reuters, is large database of legal materials in the UK. It has 115 full-text journals/newsletters and an index of abstracts from more than 800 law journals/newsletters. Like Lexis+, an alert can be set up to cover the full-text content, indexed articles or both.


HeinOnline is a US-based database that contains many law journals. A PDF guide to setting up alerts is available here.

IALS Library is unable to provide individual usernames and passwords to students for Lexis+, Westlaw or HeinOnline. If you are registered elsewhere, please check with your home institution to find out if they can arrange this for you.


The Social Science Research Network (SSRN) is a collaborative database of research papers set up to encourage the early distribution of research results. SSRN distributes submitted abstracts and full text papers from scholars around the world. SSRN's content is divided into Subject Area Networks. The Network for law is called the Legal Scholarship Network (LSN).

Once you have signed up for an account you can upload your papers. or search for papers uploaded by others. Not all content is free and if you have signed up for a free account some papers will be greyed out. Do check whether your institution has an institutional subscription which will give you access to the paid-for content.

Journal TOCs

JournalTOCs is a free journals current awareness service provided by Heriot-Watt University. It is collection of tables of contents from over 32,000 academic journals. Contents from over 1300 law journal are available. You can browse or search by journal title or article keywords from the homepage.

You can "follow" individual journals if you want the site to alert you as soon as a new journal issue is published online. Alternatively you can set up an RSS feed based on a keyword search.

Google Scholar alerts

If you are a user of Google Scholar you can make use of the alerts feature to be made aware of new articles. Guidance on how to set up an alert is available here.