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Preemption Checking for Law Students

Preemption Checking

Preemption Checking

Preemption checking is a research process to determine whether your chosen paper topic is original. It involves researching widely to make sure no one has already written the paper you plan to write. The following guide lists starting points for preemption checking. A typical process might follow the following steps:

  1. Start with searches in HOLLIS to find books and articles on your subject area. For foreign jurisdiction research, identify relevant library catalogs to search. 
  2. Delve into academic articles by using Harvard-provided sources as well as Google Scholar using increasingly specific phrases and keywords. Think broadly about where scholars might publish on this topic. Try to identify specialized databases for your subject or jurisdiction.
  3. Search for prior theses and dissertations.
  4. Check working paper/preprint databases to find the most current academic discussions.

For assistance with creating a customized preemption checking plan, please ask a librarian.


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.

Dissertations and Theses

Dissertations and Theses


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 finding sources for your specific topic and/or jurisdiction. 

Foreign & International Legal Articles

Academic Articles from Other Subject Disciplines

Working papers

Working Papers

Working papers are academic papers that are not yet in final form, or published solely in these less formal settings than full journal publications. Searching for working papers is an important part of preemption checking. You can tap into the current academic conversation and learn whether anyone 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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