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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, 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: circuit s/ split

Lexis: circuit w/s split

Westlaw:  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 Justia 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 websites for ideas and inspiration:

  • Critical Legal Thinking: articles for critical legal scholars on a variety of topics.
  • EJIL Talk!: blog of the European Journal of International Law. Podcast is here
  • Foreign Policy Magazine: magazine/forum for discussion of American foreign policy and global affairs. Podcast is here. 
  • Human Rights Watch: website.
  • I-CONnect: Blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law. 
  • International Law Prof Blog: blog with posts written by law professors who teach international law.
  • International Law Reporter: blog highlighting new scholarship in international law.
  • IntLawGrrls: blog authored by women who teach and work in international law, policy, and practice. 
  • Jurist: legal news source led by a law professor from the University of Pittsburgh; includes some international legal news.
  • Just Security: both a blog and a news source about international human rights and U.S. national security. 
  • Lawfare: website about national security, primarily, but also the laws of war in an international setting. Podcast is here
  • Opinio Juris: blog for academic debate about international law and international relations, posts written by experts. 
  • TWAIL Review: Third World Approaches to international law (TWAIL) is a movement and a journal for scholars and practitioners of international law and policy who are concerned with issues related to the global South in its broad conception. 
  • Verfassungsblog: Constitutional law blog - posts in German and English. 
  • Volkerrechtsblog: blog about international law and legal thought. 

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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