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Preemption Checking: Checklist

1. Search for Books

I have my topic, case, what? You need to be original, so now is the time to make sure the paper you want to write hasn’t been written by someone else.

Preemption checking is also useful because it gives you a head start on your research. Think about using reference management software – tools like Zotero, RefWorks, or even a basic spreadsheet application, such as Excel or Google Sheets, which help organize and annotate documents as you identify them – to assist your preemption check.

Even if someone has written on your topic, you may be able to take a different approach, explore a related question, go more in-depth, change the scope, etc., so that you still make an original contribution.


Books and book chapters familiarize you with the topic, introduce you to terms of art, and flag important authors in your area.

N.B.: The feature on the Law Library homepage inviting you to search BOOKS + ARTICLES may give you ideas and highlight material, but it searches only selected databases and content. It is not an exhaustive search, for which you will want to use the specific resources discussed in this checklist.

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