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Choosing a Topic for Your Journal Article

University of Minnesota Law Library Research Guide Series

Advice on Topic Selection/Development

Current Awareness - General Topics

Up-to-the-minute legal developments are monitored most effectively by using a variety of electronic current awareness sources. Bloomberg Law, Lexis Advance, Westlaw and a number of Internet resources provide daily updates on both federal and state legal developments and also monitor foreign and international legal developments in a timely manner. Follow the paths suggested below.

General Sources

Sources for Finding Circuit Splits

Searching for Circuit Splits in U.S. Court of Appeals Case Law Databases

Try these sample searches of U.S. Court of Appeals Cases and filter your results by date to locate recent decisions:

Bloomberg Law: court or circuit s/ split

Lexis Advance: court or circuit w/s split

Westlaw:  court or circuit /s split


Following Federal & State Public Policy, Legislative & Regulatory Developments

Consult Legal Newspapers

The following legal newspaper is especially useful because of its currency and national scope.

For regional, state, or local topics consult legal newspapers from the relevant region or jurisdiction. Some important regional legal newspapers are:

Consult Blogs/Web Sites

The following blogs can help track news and developments in the law, including jurisdictional controversies. Other legal blogs can be identified by going to the Blawg Directory or the ABA Blawg Directory.

A Recommended Guide

Current Awareness - Foreign & International Topics

Need a topic involving international and/or foreign/comparative law?  Browse the following blogs (and podcasts), find a few stories/current events that interest you, then pursue them with your librarian-liaison.  We help you research and develop your topic.

Consult with Faculty Members

Once you have identified a possible legal topic for your article, it is a good time to consult with experts. Faculty members who write and teach this topic will be able to offer suggestions on emerging legal rules and issues that are ripe for commentary. Also, they will be able to identify topics within their area of specialization that have not already been well covered in the literature. If you are unable to locate a local scholar with whom to consult, try the following directory.

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