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Researching Secondary Sources in Law

This guide is designed as an introduction to researching secondary legal sources. Secondary sources are about the law rather than the law itself. They are great research tools that can save you time and money.

Overview

Law Reviews are scholarly legal publications published by law schools or other organizations.  Examples here at UC are the University of Cincinnati Law Review, Intellectual Property and Computer Law Journal, Immigration and Human Rights Law Review, Freedom Center Journal, and Human Rights Quarterly. 

Law reviews can be great sources of information because they can give good policy arguments, broad background information, focus in on narrow topics, as well as cover very cutting edge and controversial topics.

Other types of periodicals that you will come across include legal magazines, newspapers, and newsletters. These are usually more practitioner oriented.  They give practical information on the practice of law and serve as current awareness functions. 

Legal Periodical Indexes

Note that these are indexes, not full-text sources. The index will give you the citation to an article which you would then need to retrieve if you wanted to review the full-text. There may be some overlap in coverage by the indexes but each covers some periodicals that the others do not.

Full-Text Legal Periodical Sources

Due to subscription and licensing agreements, certain library resources are restricted to UC faculty, staff, and currently enrolled students. Some of these databases are available to the entire University of Cincinnati community. Others are restricted to the College of Law.

CALI Lesson on Periodicals Indexes and Library Catalogs

CALI LogoAvailable to Law Students only (see a reference librarian if you do not have a CALI activation code).

Video Tutorials on Legal Periodicals

Citation Format for Legal Periodicals

Bluebook

Rule 16 of the Bluebook (20th ed.) covers the citation of law reviews.

Consecutively paginated law reviews and journals (R. 16.4)

Elements

The citation should include the following:

  • Author's name
  • If the article is written by a student author, the designation of the piece (see R. 16.7.1)
  • Title of the article (in italics or underlined)
  • Volume number (if no volume, use the year as the volume and don't put the year at the end)
  • Abbreviation of journal name (Tables 10,13, and 13.2 in the Bluebook)
  • The beginning page number (if pinpoint citing, include the beginning page number and the pinpoint cite)
  • Year (in parenthesis)
Example:

Charles A. Reich, The New Property, 73 Yale L.J. 733, 737-38 (1964).

Nonconsecutively paginated periodicals (R. 16.5)

Elements

The citation should include the following:

  • Author
  • Title of the article (in italics or underlined)
  • Abbreviation of journal name (see Tables 10 and 13 in the Bluebook)
  • Date as it appears on the cover (if no date of issue is available, provide the issue number and indicate the volume number before the title)
  • the word "at"
  • The beginning page number (if pinpoint citing, include the beginning page number and the pinpoint cite)
Example:

Susan A. Berson, Starting Up: If You're Hanging a Shingle in 2011, A.B.A. J., Jan. 2011, at 40.

Newspapers (R. 16.6)

 The citation format for newspapers and newsletters is largely the same as for nonconsecutively paginated periodicals. See your Bluebook for specific exceptions involving special designations, place of publication etc.

ALWD

Rule 21 of the ALWD Citation Manual (5th ed.) covers the citation of periodicals.

Consecutively paginated law reviews and journals

Elements

The citation should include the following:

  • Author
    • If the author is a student, insert "student author" after the name.
  • Title (italicized or underlined)
  • Volume (if no volume put the year and don't repeat the year at the end)
  • Periodical Abbreviation (see Appendix 5)
  • Page (if pinpoint citing, include the beginning page number and the pinpoint cite)
  • Date
Example

Charles A. Reich, The New Property, 73 Yale L.J. 733, 737-38 (1964).

Nonconsecutively paginated periodicals

Elements

The citation should include the following:

  • Author
    • If the author is a student, insert "student author" after the name.
  • Title (italicized or underlined)
  • Volume number (if exists)
  • Periodical Abbreviation (see Appendix 5)
  • Publication Date
  • the word "at"
  • Page (if pinpoint citing, include the beginning page number and the pinpoint cite)
  • Date (use exact date and if there is no specific date, include the abbreviation "no." and the issue number followed by the year)

Susan A. Berson, Starting Up: If You're Hanging a Shingle in 2011, 97 A.B.A. J., Jan. 2011, at 40.

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