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Selecting & Developing Your Seminar Paper Topic: Developing an Argument through Commentary

This guide is designed to help law students select and research a topic for their upper level writing requirement.

Find a Source

To search for an electronic version of a journal across many of the library’s subscription databases,  click on the Find a Source link from the library’s main page. From this page, you can type the title of a journal in the search box and after clicking on the "Full Text Access" link, retrieve a list of the different databases which publish that journal, along with the coverage dates. 


For example if you were to search for the title, Tobacco Control, your result list will show you that the databases, PubMed Central, JSTOR, Health and Wellness Resource Center, Health Reference Center Academic and Proquest Central carry the title.  You will also see the coverage dates for the various databases.  For example, JSTOR contains issues of Tobacco Control dating from 1992 to 2009.  This new search capability will aid those researchers who need to cite check.

How to Use Commentary

Whether it is a treatise available online, like McCarthy on Intellectual Property, or a print version of the Restatement on Torts, legal commentary, also known as secondary sources, are great tools in a legal researcher's belt.  This is because legal commentary not only explains the law, both its current understanding  and often its historical development, but legal commentary also highlights and explains the leading cases, controlling statutes and regulations. 

There are many different types of commentary including looseleaf services, treatises, law review and journal articles, and the Restatements/Model Codes. To make sure that you do not miss an important source, I posted and periodically revise a "Checklist of Finding Aids for Commentary". You can find this document in the box to the left.



OneSearch allows a researcher to search across the library's electronic resources from one simple interface. 


Tip:  Sort your results by date, title, or source.

Tip:  Refine your results by topic, date, or title.


To access the “OneSearch,” go to library's webpage and click on the link, labeled OneSearch, which is located near the top of the page.

This great tool is a one stop shop that simplifies and consolidates the process of research. For example, if you were to do a keyword search for “'climate change' and 'government policy'” combined with a subject filter for “environmental policy" and then further limit your results to full text academic sources published in the United States, you retrieve 184 results.  The results come from a variety of databases, including Heinonline, Ebsco Databases, and JSTOR. This is a much more efficient way to research rather than searching within each individual database to determine what it contains on a given topic.

Note: If you are researching off campus, you need to first implement the BLS Proxy Instructions in order to link directly to the sources identified.  You can access the BLS Proxy Instructions from the Library's main page.