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Research for Scholarly Legal Writing

A guide to UDC Law research resources for seminar papers and law review articles


This guide provides resources and suggestions for writing a seminar paper, or a law review note or comment. The resources contained in this guide are available to UDC Law students through the UDC Law or Main Campus Library - links are provided where available.

Before starting your research, keep in mind that scholarly legal writing requires you to:

  • Plan. In-depth research takes time, and you may have some false starts - it is best to start early.
  • Get Organized. During your research you will look at many sources. It is helpful to keep a record of the searches utilized, as well as the results to avoid repeating research.
  • Form a Clear Research Question. This helps you focus your research and stay on course throughout the process.

The research process for writing a scholarly article is a little bit different than if you are researching a legal issue like you may have done in your 1L legal writing class. There are steps that are recommended, but there is also some flexibility in the process. This guide will discuss each of the following steps in turn.

  1. Selecting a Topic. What topics interest you? Where can you look for ideas based on your interests?
  2. Preemption Check.  Your paper topic should be original - but how can you determine if a topic has already been written on? If it has, how can you differentiate your idea and conclusions from existing publications?
  3. Expanding Research. Once you settle on a topic and research question, how do you expand your research to include a wide range of potentially relevant sources?
  4. Refining Research. Not all sources are created equal - which are the best for lending support to your position?

Our team of Reference Librarians is always happy to assist with research strategies or questions - just email us at to set up an appointment.