Canadian Law Journals on Commercial Databases

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.



  1. Hi John – this is not unique to Canada. We have the same situation with UK journals – it is confusing, and we have established an in-house database to try to keep track of what is and is not online – – it is very confusing for the users of the collections, for sure.
    Best, Ruth

  2. John, this is good information; what would really help would be a list of all the Canadian law journals, including student ones, and where they can be found, including whether or not they are open access, in consideration of the Calgary Statement posted earlier on SLAW.

    Neil Campbell
    Law Library
    University of Victoria