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Law (HE): Journal Articles

Improve your understanding by using Journal Articles

Legal journals are collections of articles, news, updates and opinion on current legal issues, which are aimed at lawyers. academic and students of the law. They are published at regular intervals throughout the year which means they can include very up-to-date information, and they usually focus on a specific topic so are useful if you want more detail on your topic than provided by textbooks. We have some journals in print, but most are available online via our databases Westlaw and Lexis.  You should use journal articles rather than information from the Internet as they have been checked prior to publication and can be relied on to be accurate and authoritative.

The best way to find journal articles is to think carefully about your topic and identify the keywords that best describe the information you need. There are thousands of journal articles in the databases so you need to be specific - for example a search for "formation of contract" will bring too many articles for you to properly look through. Searching for articles on a particular case is a good approach.  You can click on the Journals tab in the databases and enter the case names in the case name field, for example.

About legal journals

Why use journals?

Academic journals are important sources of the latest academic research, tend to include specialist articles, and can be very detailed.  They may publish original research, or review current research within a particular field. They are usually peer-reviewed (ie they have been critically evaluated by other academics in the field).  Professional Journals tend to include more news, short articles, current affairs, and information relating to legal practice , and are not usually peer-reviewed.   Specialist Journals focus on a particular area of law and tend to cover both the academic and professional fields.  The library subscribes to a small number of journals in print, but the majority are available online.

Which journals do we have in the library?

Most journals available in electronic form through databases such as Westlaw and LexisLibrary. The library buys just a small number of journals in print.

How do I find a journal or article if I know the title? 
If you have the name of a journal, or a particular article that you would like to find, check if it is available online by clicking on the link to Electronic Resources and then Electronic Journals. 
Type the name of the journal to get a list of all journals available online with those words in the title.  Check the title carefully and click on the blue link to access the journal page. 
From here you can find your article by looking for the exact volume and issue that you need.
How do I find journal articles on a subject?
To find a range of journal articles, we suggest that you use Westlaw and LexisLibrary, and if you are looking for Family Law, also use the Family Law Online.  See below for instructions.

What is a "citation"?

The citation is the information that helps you locate an item. This is usually the journal title, date of publication, volume and issue number. You will also find citations used for books, case reports and other published materials.  For example:

Author (Year) Article title Journal title Volume and Issue Page
Meredith, S. (2011) ‘OSCOLA, a UK Standard for Legal Citation’ Legal Information Management Vol.11 pp.111-114
Slapper, G. (2000) ‘Castles built on Law’ New Law Journal Vol.150 p.924

Abbreviated titles

You will find that many citations will only give an abbreviation of the journal title:

Jones, L ‘An unfair share’, NLJ 158 (7348), 1703

To find out the full title of the journal, consult either the Cardiff index to legal abbreviations at or use Donald Raistrick’s Index to Legal Citations and Abbreviations, available in the library at 340.0148/RAI.

Links to databases

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