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Researching for a Scholarly Article or Seminar (SAW) Paper: Selecting a Topic

A guide to help you get started on your big paper.

Topic Selection

When selecting a topic you may need to consult with your seminar instructor or a journal editor. Generally, you will be asked to present more than one idea. Often during the preemption process, it is determined that some topics are not as ideal as others, so having multiple topics at the ready is useful.

Your topic ideas should interest you. You are going to be spending a semester or more working with the idea. Authors often pull ideas from their personal lives, academic interests or classes, or areas they would like to work in post-graduation. If you are having difficulty in coming up with topic ideas, here are a few sources that may help you:

BNA Newsletters (only available for UCLA Law) offer current events in various topical areas of law including banking, environmental, healthcare, and intellectual property to name a few. 

Major Newspapers will discuss important court decisions, laws, and regulations. At UCLA, you have access to most major newspapers. The UCLA Library guide on news provides an overview of the available newspapers.

United States Law Week Circuit Splits (only available for UCLA Law) provides a monthly list of U.S. circuit splits. 

Legal Blogs are a great source for recent legal events and legal conflicts. The ABA Blawg Directory offers a fairly comprehensive list of blogs by topic and region. 

You can visit some or all of these sources to develop topics. If you are still having difficulty, please stop by the Reference Desk in the Law Library and we will be happy to help you.