A rant / proposal on Canadian legal journal indexes:
As many SLAW readers will know, there are two main products that index Canadian legal journal literature:
– the Index to Canadian Legal Literature (ICLL), available in print from Carswell and online on each of Westlaw Canada and LexisNexis Canada (early 1980’s to current but I believe the print purports to include some pre-1980 content).
– the Index to Canadian Legal Periodical Literature (ICLPL) (print only, from 1960 to current but with a large publishing lag/delay (i.e., I believe the 2005 annual volume was published circa 2008).
[I am intentionally not mentioning the so-called “American” law journal indexes (such as LegalTrac or the Index to Legal Periodicals) that include some Canadian content].
Some might argue that the ICLPL has better indexing but given its print-only status, it is hugely under-utilized (and I don’t want to ruffle feathers of the hard-working people responsible for either publication by claiming one is better than the other).
Wouldn’t it be nice if either index (or a newly created venture) could index the entire Canadian legal literature back to the turn of the century? (the other century, not this one).
Since the majority of researchers want or are satisfied with recent journal literature, the reality is that pre-1980’s journal literature is ignored or not pursued since there is not a single easy way to search for the pre-1980 journal literature. As such, the existing situation of only ICLL or ICLPL is likely satisfactory for most researchers needing only current content.
The following two techniques work to source older Canadian journal literature but take extra initiative:
1) Searching HeinOnline, by country (Canada) and title or full-text keyword searches.
HeinOnline contains a number of Canadian law journals with start dates that precede the existing indexes (e.g., McGill Law Journal starts in 1952, University of Toronto Law Journal starts in 1935, and so on). The foregoing technique allows you to find older articles by searching by title or full-text keywords, e.g.: G.H.L. Fridman, “Trespass or Negligence?” (1971) 9 Alta. L. Rev. 250.
2) Searching the Canadian Bar Review on the CBA website (free to search but you need to be a member to get the full-text PDF article).
Unfortunately, the Canadian Bar Review is not on HeinOnline, but since it started in 1923, and since, as many would argue, it is one of the better quality sources of Canadian law journal articles, it should not be over-looked for pre mid-1980’s content (e.g., Paul Martin, “The Declaratory Judgment” (1953) 31 Can. Bar Rev. 540 is one result I came across last week while conducting research).
Ideally, one would not need to go to multiple sources (e.g., ICLL, HeinOnline and the CBA website) to run an “exhaustive” (historical and current) search on all Canadian journal literature.
Any takers out there on developing a master journal index that would incorporate all of this content into a single (online) index? Surely the amount of pre-1980 journal literature is not so voluminous as to make this a huge undertaking . . . .