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Law Library News for February 22, 1999

Linda Kawaguchi, editor

Law Library News Archive

 

Mark Your Calendar

Please attend a town meeting on the law library to be held Thursday February 25 from 12:30 to 1:30 pm in room 109/129.

Penny Hazelton and her staff want to hear your comments, questions and suggestions. Feel free to bring your lunch and join in the conversation.

Trivia Contest Winner

Congratulations to Jane Kim, who is the winner of last week's romantic trivia contest!

Electronic Journals & Law Reviews

by Matthew Wright, Law Librarianship Intern

Despite the myth that "everything is on the computer" many people assume that law reviews and journals are the exclusive domain of print publishing. Journals published exclusively in electronic form or e-journals are relatively new but are growing in number because of the Internet.

There are two types of electronically disseminated journals:

  1. electronic equivalents of journals published in paper and
  2. journals published exclusively in electronic form.

The first form is familiar for anyone who has used Lexis or Westlaw to retrieve journal articles. In addition, many paper journals are now freely available on the Internet as well.

The second type (e-journals) are harder to locate and are poorly indexed. Locating e-journals requires a great deal of searching and knowing where to find compiled lists of e-journals. And if you do not know a title of an e-journal (you just want to browse an electronic collection) you may have to visit several sites. In this respect, the virtual library is no different than the traditional library. Not every library subscribes to every journal and not every web site has links to all e-journals.

In addition, browsing e-journals is essential to locate content on any given subject. E-journals are not indexed like paper journals so don't expect to find citations to e-journals in the Legal Resource Index (LegalTrac), the Index to Legal Periodicals, or CILP (though some are on Westlaw and Lexis). Here are a few web sites to get you started.

http://www.washlaw.edu/lawjournal/lawjournal.html and http://www.findlaw.com/lawreviews

These two sites provide lists of law review web pages and e-journals. E-journals are listed in the same alphabetical list as the links to paper journals so you'll have to browse. Some of the web pages for the paper journals only contain subscription information and pricing.

http://www.usc.edu/dept/law-lib/legal/journals.html 

This site is maintained by USC and is the most organized and informative (it is maintained by a cataloger). For each link, the list indicates whether the web page provides full-text, abstracts, tables of contents and/or subscription information. They also have links to electronic journal locating services. However, the e-journals are also buried within the links to the paper journal home pages.

The American Association of Research Libraries publishes the most comprehensive list of e-journals (over 3,000). You can buy a paper or electronic copy from their web page. The new 7th edition does allow for some subject searching by keyword but it is primarily an alphabetical listing. The older 6th edition is available for free from ARL's home page. There is only an alphabetical listing and legal journals are not listed separately. Their URL is http://www.arl.org/scomm/edir/archive.html

http://www.lib.flinders.edu.au/resources/sub/law/legalj.htm. This Australian site has a good list of online foreign journals.

The Coalition of Online Law Journals is an association of legal e-journals. They have information about e-journals and they are establishing standards of quality in electronic legal publishing. Their web address is: http://www.urich.edu/~jolt/e-journals. They also have a link to a list of e-journals. The list is small but most of the journals are solely electronic. For some inexplicable reason, they also include links to a few print journals. The list is located at: http://www.urich.edu/~jolt/e-journals/ejournal.html. The site is hosted by the Richmond Journal of Law & Technology, the first student-edited academic law review to be published solely in electronic form. Other student-edited academic legal e-journals include: Michigan Telecommunications & Technology Law Review, Virginia Journal of Law & Technology and the Stanford Technology Law Review.

There are several advantages to using e-journals as a source of information. Issues in a constant state of change require immediate reporting and analysis. Publishing rough drafts of scholarly work allows other professionals to critique it and offer suggestions in the early stages of writing. Finally, many legal articles concerning cyberspace, Internet privacy and electronic issues are only published in electronic form because the readers prefer electronic distribution.

In conclusion, I offer several words of caution when using e-journals. The quality of the content varies widely. There is no guarantee that the URL will exist tomorrow, or that the article will not be removed. In short, using e-journals creates the same problems of accuracy, reliability and archivability that exist anytime the Internet is the source of information.