Welcome back! It’s a new year and a fresh start. I had a question at the reference desk yesterday about where to look for topics for research papers. This is a great question that many of you may have to deal with this semester, so let’s discuss.
Picking a paper topic is often one of the most important parts of the process. If you choose a good topic it can make life a whole lot easier. Students often want to find a hot topic on which to research and write. One of the places I often send students for this kind of information is Bloomberg BNA. BNA, which was purchased by Bloomberg Law fairly recently, produces a number of reports on a variety of current legal topics that can help give you some ideas to write on. The law library subscribes to these BNA reports, including the Banking Report, Employment Discrimination Report, and Securities Regulation & Law Report. Each of these has a section in the left-hand column labeled “hot topics” that can be helpful. One of the most popular of these among law faculty is United States Law Week. U.S. Law Week even has a section dedicated to circuit splits, which can be a good place to find paper topics.
Another resource I really like is a topic bank created by the Litigation Section of the Utah Bar. Here attorneys have submitted ideas that they think would make good law review or journal articles. Students can email in and claim one of the topics to work on. Many ideas may not fit with the course you’re taking, but some might.
The Law Library has a number of resources besides what’s available to you in Westlaw and Lexis. You may want to consult some of these sources to determine if they can help you pick a topic. Check the law library’s subject guides on our webpage to see our electronic resources, as well as some of our print resources compiled by subject.
Last, but not least, come see us at the reference desk or come visit one of the law librarians in our offices. We can suggest some other sources that will be helpful and directed toward your courses and interests.