Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Full text legal journal articles - how to find online

Unfortunately there seems to be no single comprehensive source from which to get full text legal journal articles online. (I've previously listed some free full text Web law journal articles on tech law.)

I'm sure I'm not the only person who's had trouble working out how to access full text law journal articles over the internet from their own home computer. For new students in particular I don't think it's obvious.

How to find full text legal journal articles online

There seem to be 3 main legal publisher sources commonly used in the UK (leaving aside the free online legal journals):

  • HeinOnline - has the most number of journals, law reviews, bulletins etc in full text, especially US ones.
  • Lexis - has the smallest selection of journals, at the date of writing, but includes International Journal of Law & Information Technology and Privacy and Data Protection. But it seems more up to date, e.g. for IJL&IT (which Westlaw also provide) I notice the latest issue is available in fulltext on Lexis, but not on Westlaw
  • Westlaw - includes Communications Law, Computer and Telecommunications Law Review, Entertainment Law Review, European Intellectual Property Review, Intellectual Property Quarterly, International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law, and again International Journal of Law & Information Technology

They don't all carry the same periodicals; in fact it's safest to assume that there's no overlap, so if you're looking for an article you need to check all 3 sources.

If accessing through your university or college's subscription, it's best to login to your institution's Athens or similar federation service first, using your college library username and password normally, before trying to access any of these services. Or use whichever method your library recommends for getting you into the subscription service from home.

If you don't have the exact citation - journal title, year, issue and page number etc - you may be out of luck as there doesn't seem to be a full text search facility covering all law journals.

Hein Online

The easiest as it specialises in law journals; it even has an intellectual property law journal section (I added the highlighting).

Within the Law Journal Library (or Intellectual Property Law Journal Library) section you can look for the journal you want, e.g. by browsing for its title alphabetically.

The rest is intuitive - click on journal name, then the year & volume you want, and there's a table of contents on the left to find the article.

Westlaw

It's the Journals tab, of course.

Within that, Full Text Articles gets the list of all periodicals which they offer in full text -

and you can just click on the name of the journal or magazine that you want.

Lexis

With Lexis it's a bit trickier to figure out what journals are available in full text.

Once you're in the Journals tab, the trick is to click the i in a blue circle (highlighted below) -

This then pops up a new window listing all the journals available in full text.

Hope this helps.

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