This guide provides an overview of health law research strategies. It will highlight some of the key secondary and primary resources in these areas, as well as current awareness sources. To learn more about performing legal research generally, please visit:
Health law has become a distinct field in its own right, however, researchers may also wish to explore: Bioethics, Health Care Policy & Reform, Medical Device Law & Industry, Medical Malpractice, Medicare/Medicaid, Pharmaceutical Law & Industry, and Public Health. For a brief summary of health law please visit:
Secondary sources are a great place to begin your research. To learn more about secondary sources and how best to use them, visit the following guide:
Legal encyclopedias contain brief, broad summaries of legal topics, providing introductions to legal topics and explaining relevant terms of art. State encyclopedias can also be found on Westlaw and Lexis.
The American Law Reports contains in-depth articles on narrow topics of the law. Use the following Indices to access the ALR. Note: Lexis also has some ALR materials but Westlaw's are more complete.
You can search the library catalog, Hollis, for articles and texts together in one place. In addition, many of the major databases used for primary law research can also be used for secondary source research:
In addition to traditional law reviews and journals many advocacy organizations also publish:
Primary authority is authority that issues directly from a law-making body. To learn more about primary sources and how to use them visit:
50 State Surveys are tools used to compare the law across multiple states. To learn more about how to use and access 50 State Surveys see our guide on:
For 50 State Surveys on Health Law visit:
To better understand the legislative intent of a federal or state statute, you may consider earlier versions of the law or supporting testimony and material. To locate these resources you may consult a legislative history such as the following:
Federal and State regulations make up a substantial portion of what we consider to be primary sources in health law research. While statutes may enable change in health policy (such as the Affordable Care Act) and create specific health programs (such as Medicare and Medicaid), the way in which those policies and programs are administered relies primarily on Federal and State regulations.
If you are unfamiliar with how to conduct regulatory research, please visit:
Administrative Materials accessible on both Westlaw and Lexis:
Agency websites also contain regulations and resources that can aid in conducting research:
Some agencies can also decide cases related to particular regulations. These agency decisions are typically not included in most general case law databases, and can be accessed through agency websites:
Some of the most helpful resources in the field of health law are actually written by practitioners in the field. Although they are similar to many treatises, they are directed at lawyers in practice and can contain checklists and forms not available in a traditional treatise.
Handbooks and guides can be extremely helpful when working on health law related issues as a new practitioner.
Keeping up-to-date with new developments in the field of health law will serve to enhance any research project. Consulting recent headlines in the field may also help researchers still looking for a paper topic to refine the scope of their research in health law. Use these links to find news sources related to health law:
Legal Blogs have become an increasingly rich source of information and legal news. Below are two indices to health law blogs:
Health law is an interdisciplinary area. You may benefit from accessing health and biomedical resources.
For unfamiliar terms and acronyms consult the following:
There are several health and medical databases that may be helpful in your research:
Health law also touches on many different research areas. These additional research guides contain important content related to health law:
Chat with us! Chat with a librarian.
Contact Historical & Special Collections at firstname.lastname@example.org
Meet with Us Schedule an online consult with a Librarian
Hours Library Hours
Text Ask a Librarian, 617-702-2728
This guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
You may reproduce any part of it for noncommercial purposes as long as credit is included and it is shared in the same manner.