For the last few months, I have been tracking new issues of Canadian law journals for Bora Laskin Law Library’s Recent Law Journals Tables of Contents service (July issue here) . This was as part of a bigger project, that will hopefully see the light of day someday. One of my collaborators on that project Andrea Davidson (a lawyer who is currently a masters student at the University of Western Ontario’s Faculty of Information and Media Studies) thought it was worth noting that a number of the journals we were looking at were not available on either Lexis or Westlaw. This is a bit of a surprise as I had half-assumed going into this project that I would be able to find most journals I needed online by looking in one or two places. While most journals are indeed online somewhere, you have to look in a few different places to find them all.
A closer look at what I found is surprising. There may be errors here – I have relied on UofT’s list of law journals, but this gives a good general picture. We certainly do have a way to go.
Of the 66 Canadian law related journals I am tracking:
– 11 are on all three main commercial platforms (Lexis, Westlaw and HeinOnline)
– 12 are on two of these platforms (10 Lexis, 10 Hein, 4 Westlaw)
– 20 are on only one of these platforms (3 Lexis, 7 Hein, 10 Westlaw)
– 2 are only on Hein but are not current
– 21 are not on any of the three platforms (some of these are published on the web only, others are available on other online platforms such as Gale or Proquest or a CLB database, and some (about 12) I could not find online at all)
Looking at things another way, if I was expecting to get one stop shopping – of my 66 journals I would find:
– 24 of them on Lexis
– 25 of them on West
– 30 of them on Hein (not all would be current)
I guess there are a couple of lessons here. One, it looks like neither of these sources has a clear competitive advantage in their journals coverage. The second is one that my library mentor Ted Tjaden made sure I understood when I joined UofT: if you are doing journal research and want to know what has been written on a specific topic use an index – full-text searching is (still) not enough.