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Scholarly Research Resources

This guide describes the various services available to students participating on one of Texas Tech's law journals.

Topic Selection

Selecting a Topic

Choosing a topic to write about is one of the hardest parts of writing a scholarly article. Not only do you have to ensure that you select an original topic, you also must ensure that others will want to read about it. In addition to originality and relevance, you have to be interested in the topic since you will be spending the next several months research and writing about it.

A few things to consider in selecting a topic:

  • Pick a topic that will express original, useful, and timely ideas about an important subject
  • Pick a topic that interests YOU
  • What kind of law do you want to practice?
  • Talk to professors, judge, or attorneys
  • Pick a topic that is timely
  • Pick a topic that focuses on a large social and global issues
  • Consider your own experiences
  • Research recent cases and circuit splits


Sources for Selecting a Topic


Lexis offers some information for beginning research in a specific topic area. While not as helpful as a primer, when just starting out, Lexis is a good place to gather ideas of different sources to refer to. Additionally, it offers Key Topics in the area and provides legal and business news headlines to help gather ideas of a current issue to write about.







Westlaw offers some research assistance in the “Practical Law” section by Practice Area, Resource Type, and Jurisdiction. A topical primer may be a better place to start when selecting a topic, but Westlaw offers some more in-depth topics to choose from.












Research Guides

Many law school libraries, including Texas Tech School of Law Library, offer various topical research guides that can be used to locate primary and secondary sources by topic. These resources can offer a lot of background information to begin the topic selection process.  Texas Tech's Reference Librarians are also a great resource for finding background sources on prospective topics.

Thesis Statement 

Once you select a topic and do your preliminary research, you need to develop a thesis statement. A thesis statement is the central idea that your entire paper will focus on and it includes the issue that you will resolve. Some things to keep in mind are:

  • Thesis – an original and supportable proposition about the subject.
  • It is not enough to simply identify a problem – you need to try to resolve it.
  • Narrow your thesis to something manageable.
    • If the focus is sufficiently narrow, you will be able to read a lot of material and become an expert in that one area in a short amount of time.
    • Sometimes, your initial research will suggest ways to narrow focus.
  • Develop a Thesis – an original and supportable proposition about the subject
    • Find one new point, one new insight, one new way of looking at the law, and organize your entire article around that.
    • Probe sources to search for an original thesis – critical reading.
    • Read for inconsistency, logical error, and omission.
    • Write down ideas while you read.
  • After you identify your thesis, test it.
    • If your thesis identifies a problem and proposes a solution, bombard it with hypotheticals to see if the solution works in all its likely applications.

Topic Selection Resources

Before a case or statute is discussed in law reviews, it is covered in newspapers, legal newsletters, blogs, or industry magazines and newsletters. Coming across a short article about a recent case or proposed legislation may give you an idea for a topic. Look up legal news using the three major legal research databases. Many legal databases enable you to search for circuit splits or cases of first impression that are worthy of writing about.

  • Look for legal development
  • Review circuit splits and novel cases
  • Browse recent scholarly publications
  • Mine others' topic ideas, including calls for papers and writing competitions
  • Talk to people

Current Awareness Resources

Legal Blawgs

Both the ABA and Justia websites have blawg directories that researchers can search by subject.  Legal blawgs frequently talk about hot issues and recent decisions and can therefore be a great way to find a topic.

News Resources

Major newspapers, such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post are another great resource for finding current legal issues.  Online news sources, including the following, can also be helpful for finding recent issues in the law:

Circuit Split Resources

There are a few resources that focus on circuit splits.  Look at these websites to find issues that have been resolved in different ways depending on the court. 

Recent Decisions

Reading recent decisions can also be a way to come up with a paper topic.  Try searching Westlaw and Lexis Advance for recent decisions on topics of interest.

To research Supreme Court Decisions, look at:

To research Fifth Circuit cases, the Fifth Circuit's website.

To research Texas District court cases, see Justia's Texas U.S. Federal District Courts webpage.

To research Texas state cases, see the Texas Judicial Branch website.