Step 1: Secondary Sources - Journals and Journal Indexes

Legal journals and periodicals are collections of legal articles which  can be found through full-text databases, periodical indexes or a federated search engine like U of T’s Onesearch.  They tend to be more current than books as they are published more frequently.  These contain articles written by legal scholars and provide in-depth research on current or developing areas of the law.  They include extensive referencing and footnotes and in some situations, can be influential or persuasive in court. Don't forget, some journals may only be available in print so do not limit your search to full text journal databases

See Also: the Finding Law Journal and Law Journal Articles LibGuide which provides links to journal indexes, full text journal databases and other useful information on how to to journal research.

Full Text Journal Databases

  • Use a full text journal database when you are searching for specific facts, ideas or concepts that would not be captured by the subject headings used in a periodical index.

Journal Indexes

  • Journal indexes are research aids that  assist in finding articles, available both online and in print.
  • They are a good place for beginning research as it is easy to locate relevant subject areas and keywords.
  • They are also more comprehensive than full-text journal databases as they index many more journals than are included in the full text databases.
  • Online Indexes can be searched by keyword, title, author or subject. Each index will have unique search features, use the help feature if needed.
  • Most indexes provide instructions at beginning to assist researchers.

Useful search strategies for online journal indexes:

  • Limit your search: limit the search to title, author, date or subject.
  • Search specific databases or journals: if know a relevant database or journal, can start there to find articles.
  • Follow the descriptors or subject headings: Find an article on a relevant subject or topic, then search for other items using the same descriptors or subject headings. Online indexes will often provide links to authors and subject headings.
  • Truncate search terms: Most of the databases allow you to truncate the search to pick up variants and plurals on the "roots." Check the help feature to find out the correct syntax for truncated searches.

Print Indexes:

  • Print indexes are hardbound and updated by supplements; make sure to check all supplemental volumes.
  • Can searched by keyword, title, author or subject.