The next frontier
This class has taught us all just how much free information is out there, at least if we know how and where to find it. But our last assignment got me thinking about journals, the other kind of secondary sources out there, and wondering if legal journals are available for free online too– for us to use after we have to leave the convenient confines of the Law School Library and no longer have access to HeinOnline.
I managed to find a number of lists of academic journals available online and will go through a couple of them. The first one is a blog post providing a list of100 Free Academic Journals You Can Access Online. The journals are organized by subject matter category, for example, Arts & Humanities, Business, and Social Sciences. Each journal is linked to and has a 1 sentence summary of the sort of information and articles the journal has. The Law & Politics section is rather depressingly short, in light of the number of legal journals out there. (Just how depressingly short the list is will be clear from looking at the back of the Bluebook, for starters.) But it does include some journals that may be useful, like the Harvard Human Rights Journal.
Another website is one called, very creatively, Academic Journals, that provides a list of open access academic journals. (I’m sure you’re shocked.) This list, too, is divided up into general categories, of which Legal Studies, is one (and more usefully, clicking on the category at the top allows you to skip down to where that category begins on the page.) The list will probably be of limited use to us, though, as the categories with the most open access journals are the Medical Sciences and Biological Sciences categories. The Legal Studies category consists of…
1 journal- the Journal of Law and Conflict Resolution.
Fortunately for us, though, that’s not all. More useful is the Directory of Open Access Journals that links to open access journals and has a much longer list of journals relating to Law. Some journals are international and are, therefore, only available in the native language and not in English but most are in English. This directory includes journals like the Duke Law Journal and the Federal Courts Law Review. (Incidentally, I must mention that I’m impressed by Duke’s commitment to providing open access to their law journals, as 4 of Duke’s Journals are listed on the Directory and, from what I can tell, the other 5 journals at Duke Law School are also publicly available, on their respective websites. This may also be the place to mention that not one of Cornell’s journals is listed on this Directory.)
Lastly, is Questia that is an online library and also has academic journals that can be searched or browsed. Questia might be the most useful site because it provides a search function so you can search for keywords or by Title or Author, among other things, to find articles written on a particular topic, without having to physically browse through all the possible relevant journals. As an example, a search for “check kiting” came up with more than 50 results in journals, and a search for “child abuse” as the specific term came up with more than 2000 results in journal articles that mentioned child abuse. Questia does require registration in order to actually access the full text of the materials, but if just looking at the search results for various keywords is an indication, registering with Questia seems like the thing to do, especially once we all lose access to HeinOnline.
The one thing that must be admitted is that these lists of journals, useful as they are, all appear to be limited in the types of law-related journals they provide, but that may be a result of there simply not being that many law reviews that are entirely open access. It seems as if the next step in making legal resources more accessible will be in the world of law reviews.