Skip to Main Content
The University of Alabama School of Law WordmarkThe University of Alabama School of Law

Legal Writing - Scholarly and Professional


The Bounds Law Library has resources for preemption checking that are helpful for selecting a law review note topic. If after reviewing the sections of this guide you still have questions about preemption checking, do not hesitate to contact a librarian.

Introduction to Preemption Checking

The Bounds Law Library recommends that students planning to write a law journal note perform a preemption check (a search of existing literature) as part of their initial research. A preemption check will help you identify previous scholarly articles (including other student notes) on the same topic as your initial idea. Journals seek original contributions to legal scholarship, and a preemption check helps you avoid duplication of topics. Students who find law review articles on topics like their own may then choose to investigate an alternative topic, modify their initial idea to address gaps they find in the existing literature, or to advance an alternative thesis on the same topic. Any of these approaches will help you increase the originality of your contribution to legal scholarship.

The sections below provide at least one strategy for finding relevant articles on a given topic: beginning with legal indexes of existing journal articles, full-text searching back issues of law journals, and full-text searching non-law articles in other databases. 

After reading this guide, if you have additional questions, please visit the circulation desk to speak with a reference librarian.

Research and Reference Help

Ways to Check Your Particular Topic

HeinOnline (CILP)

HeinOnline is the world’s largest English-language database of legal scholarship and includes thousands of law journal titles. Among other resources, HeinOnline provides access to the Current Index to Legal Periodicals (CILP), a weekly index of recent law review articles arranged by subject or topic. Students will find CILP useful for generating new ideas for law review notes, avoiding duplicating other scholars’ work, and identifying existing literature on the topic they are researching.

Foreign & International Law Resources Database (Sorted by Subject)

FILR provides an index of foreign and international legal periodicals arranged by subject area.

Legal Resource Index 

Similar to CILP. Legal Resource Index allows users to search articles in Westlaw journals by subject/topic. Access is provided through Westlaw. 

Index to Legal Periodicals Retrospective: 1908-1981

Index of numerous legal periodicals published between 1908 and 1981 in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as annual surveys of jurisdictional laws and federal courts, annual institutes, and annual reviews of work on specific topics.

Directory of Open Access Journals

Searchable database of open access journals, including law journals. 


Provides access to full-text searching of HeinOnline’s Law Journal Library, a database of thousands of American and foreign legal periodicals.


Provides access to full-text searching of Westlaw legal periodicals, including many American law reviews. 


Provides access to full-text searching of Lexis legal periodicals, including many American law reviews.

Scholarly Commons

Provides access to abstract searching of legal/scholarly articles written by faculty at hundreds of American law schools. 


Provides access to legal scholars’ draft articles, working papers, and forthcoming scholarship in a range of subject areas. Users can full-text search the database’s contents to find articles and notes that have recently been published or will soon to be published. It is useful for finding articles that have not yet appeared on HeinOnline, Westlaw, Lexis, or which are subject to embargo.


Academic Search Premier 

Provides access to full-text versions of scholarly articles. Contains indexing and abstracts for news sources and refereed journals in nearly every area of academic study, including social sciences, humanities, education, computer sciences, engineering, physics, chemistry, language & linguistics, arts & literature, medical sciences, ethnic studies, and more.

Business Source Complete

Indexes business journals throughout the world on various subjects, including marketing, management, MIS, POM, accounting, finance, economics, and more. Also contains financial data, case studies, investment research reports, industry reports, market research reports, country reports, company profiles, and SWOT analyses. Provides access to the full text of articles from many publishers and links to full-text options for other articles.


Provides full-text PDF versions of many scholarly titles in a range of subject areas, including literature, biological sciences, economics, finance, and statistics.

Bounds Law Library A-Z

Provides access to other databases used for topics in specialized areas. 

Gorgas Library A-Z

Provides access to other databases used for topics in specialized areas. 

Google Scholar

Provides PDF versions of some scholarly literature in many academic areas. 

Setting Up Alerts

Students may find it helpful to set up database alerts notifying them of new scholarship in the topics/subject areas they are researching


Click the link above for instructions to create many different types of alerts.


Click the link above for instructions to create many different types of alerts.


Click the link above for instructions to create an alert using Google Alerts.

If You Want to Know More...

Help by Emailing a Librarian

Email a Librarian

Patrons needing basic library assistance such as finding an article or citation or asking a basic reference question can use the Email a Librarian button to send an email to a shared email account.


To ask a question using email, find the Email a Librarian button on the Law Library homepage (above the hours information on the left).
This will open a form where you can put your contact information and ask your question or request the document you need.

If requesting a document, please provide citation information such as author, title, year and edition for a book and author, title, journal, and volume and pagination for an article.

Help by Chatting with a Librarian

Chat with a Librarian

Patrons can ask a law librarian a question by chatting with a librarian. Follow the instructions below to ask a question by chatting with a librarian.


To ask a question by chatting with a librarian, find the Chat with a Librarian button on the Law Library homepage (above the hours information on the left).

Fill in your name, your contact info, your question, and click Start Chat.

A reference librarian will chat with you about your question.