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Preemption Checking for Law Students

Preemption Checking

Preemption Checking

Preemption checking is a research process to determine if your chosen paper topic is original. It involves researching thoroughly to ensure no one has already written the paper you plan to write. Preemption research is an integrated, ongoing aspect of paper research. 

This guide lists resources for preemption checking. While each project is different, preemption checking usually involves these steps:

  1. Search in HOLLIS to find books and articles.
  2. Think broadly about where scholars might publish on this topic. For foreign jurisdiction research, identify relevant library catalogs and databases that cover the jurisdiction.
  3. Search for academic articles in Harvard-provided sources as well as Google Scholar using increasingly specific phrases and keywords.
  4. Search for prior theses and dissertations on your topic.
  5. Check working paper/preprint databases to find the latest scholarly discussions.

A research librarian can help you develop your preemption checking plan. For assistance, email


Library Catalogs & EBook Collections

Books from Foreign Jurisdictions

For topics on foreign jurisdictions, you may need to explore beyond Hollis and Worldcat to libraries or sources that will best reflect the academic literature of the jurisdiction. These might include national library catalogs, national bibliographies and regional studies databases.


Legal Academic Articles

In addition to the following sources, HLS Library provides other indexes to the legal literature as well as many foreign legal databases with academic papers. Please ask a librarian to help you identify appropriate article sources for your specific topic and/or jurisdiction. 

Foreign & International Legal Articles

Academic Articles from Other Subject Disciplines

Dissertations and Theses

Dissertations and Theses

Working papers

Working Papers

Working papers are academic papers that are not yet in final form, or that will be published solely in these less formal settings than academic journals. Searching for working papers is an important part of preemption checking. You can find the latest academic writings and learn if someone is working on a paper similar to the one you plan to write.

Research Guides

Research Guides

Starting with a research guide on your topic will help you identify specialized databases. Google: research guide your general topic to locate them, or browse the sources below.

Overviews & Bibliographies

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