Before starting your research, it is important to spend some time analyzing the materials that you already have at your disposal. If you begin researching without being able to answer fundamental questions about the topic, it is unlikely you will have enough background knowledge about your topic to fully process the material that shows up in your research. It is better practice to review and process as much information as possible, before you begin researching. Understanding your topic will allow you to develop an efficient research plan and a strong list of key terms that will help you locate sources.
After working through the above questions, ask yourself whether you feel confident you understand the legal landscape of your directed research project. If you do, you are probably ready to start researching! If you're still confused or have questions, this is a great time to pause and check in with a librarian. Make an appointment, email the reference librarians, or drop into the Zoom Reference Office.
Running a preemption check means confirming whether someone else has already written an article on the same topic with the same thesis you are considering. During the preemption check process you will likely find articles that also address your topic. But don't conclude you are preempted unless after reading those articles you find that you have no new, worthwhile insights to offer. For instructions on conducting a complete preemption check, review this Preemption Checking Guide from Dorraine Zief Law Library. The below Preemption Checklist will point you to locations to check to ensure your work is sufficiently original to be published. Also see the full list of SLS legal databases.
For the preemption search process you will use the same tools to locate preempting literature in law journals, law-related journals, or specialized scholarly journals: indexes, table of contents, or full text searches.
The Social Science Research Network (SSRN) is a multi-disciplinary online repository of published and forthcoming scholarly articles. Users can search for articles using basic or advanced tools, or by subject area, and download most articles in full in PDF format.
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