One of the most commonly asked questions addressed to the HeinOnline support team is "What does HeinOnline have compared to other legal research databases?" Until recently, no known sources contained information about what each database has in terms of depth of content and coverage. Thus, this analysis was performed on database content for the top 100 law journals for six major legal research databases: HeinOnline, Westlaw*, LexisNexis Academic, JSTOR, Gale LegalTrac, and EBSCO Legal Collection. The results of the study are discussed in detail below.
Washington and Lee University's Law Journal Ranking Project was used to determine the list of the top 100 law journals, according to the Ranking Project's combined score. Journal rankings on this list are determined by this ranking methodology. Next, lists were compiled of both indexing and full-text coverage for these 100 journals for HeinOnline, Westlaw, LexisNexis Academic, JSTOR, Gale LegalTrac, and EBSCO Legal Collection. Because HeinOnline's coverage for all but one of the top 100 journals was found to be the most comprehensive, we located the most-cited article within each journal and compared the availability of these important articles among all six databases.
Lists of journal coverage for databases other than HeinOnline were located, and indexing and full-text coverage information for the top 100 journals was then extracted. These lists were obtained from the following sources:
1. List of the top 100 journals:
Washington and Lee University
https://lawlib.wlu.edu/LJ/, current through 2015
Lancaster University LibGuides
https://lancaster.libguides.com/content.php?pid=148415&sid=1385003, accessed July 11, 2016
3. LexisNexis Academic title list:
Lexis Subscriber Tools content list
https://amdev.net/rpt_download.php?reg=USA, updated July 2, 2016
JSTOR Title Lists
https://about.jstor.org/content/jstor-title-lists, accessed July 11, 2016
5. Gale LegalTrac:
Cengage Learning/Gale LegalTrac Product Overview
https://www.cengage.com/search/productOverview.do;jsessionid=A82B7C0363F0CB437FDD79B448B1EF4E?N=197+4294904586&Ntk=P_EPI&Ntt=126269676852085702017354736251578818018&Ntx=mode%2Bmatchallpartial, accessed July 11, 2016
6. EBSCO Legal:
Legal Collection Content Lists
https://www.ebscohost.com/academic/legal-collection, updated for July/August 2016
Cumulative Number of Full Text Volumes Available
The total number of available full text volumes was counted for each database. For instance, HeinOnline has a total of 6,408 volumes which contain the full text of all material within each volume.
Cumulative Number of Indexed Volumes Available
The total number of available indexed volumes was counted for each database. For instance, HeinOnline has a total of 6,421 volumes which contain indexed material, and most of these volumes also contain the full text. Most databases will have a greater number of indexed volumes than full text volumes due to embargoes requested by individual publishers.
Number of Most-Cited Articles Available in Full Text
The most-cited article in each journal was determined using HeinOnline. The following chart shows how many of these articles are available in full text within each database.
Compared to HeinOnline, the other five databases had the following percentages of full text content:
Compared to HeinOnline, the other five databases had the following percentages of indexed content:
Summary of Findings
HeinOnline has both indexed and full-text content for 99 of the top 100 journals, with only American Business Law Journal missing completely. In total, HeinOnline contains 6,421 indexed volumes, 6,408 full text volumes, and 99 of the 100 most-cited articles from the top journals. HeinOnline's coverage ranges from inception to current in almost all instances.
Westlaw has at least some coverage, either indexed or full text, for 99 of the top 100 journals, with only Harvard Business Law Review missing completely. Westlaw contains 3,289 indexed volumes, 3,276 full text volumes, and 63 of the 100 most-cited articles from the top journals. While Westlaw does have coverage for nearly all of the top 100 journals, this coverage often does not date back to inception and in some instances is selective within the stated date ranges.
3. LexisNexis Academic
LexisNexis Academic has at least some coverage, either indexed or full text, for 93 of the top 100 journals. Missing journals include UCLA Law Review, Cornell Law Review, Florida Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, Chicago Journal of International Law, Harvard Business Law Review, and Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law. LexisNexis Academic contains 2,481 indexed volumes, 2,472 full text volumes, and 49 of the 100 most cited articles from the top journals. LexisNexis coverage often does not date back to inception, but coverage within the stated range for each journal appears to be comprehensive.
JSTOR has at least some coverage, either indexed or full text, for 19 of the top 100 journals. In total, JSTOR contains 1,593 indexed volumes, 1,593 full text volumes, and 20 of the 100 most cited articles from the top journals.
5. Gale LegalTrac
Gale LegalTrac has at least some indexed coverage for 99 of the top 100 journals and some full text coverage for 20 titles. Gale LegalTrac has 3,369 indexed volumes, 326 full text volumes, and only 4 of the 100 most cited articles from the top journals.
6. EBSCO Legal
EBSCO Legal has at least some coverage, either indexed for full text, for 34 of the top 100 journals. In total, EBSCO Legal has 864 indexed volumes, 459 full text volumes, and only 4 of the 100 most cited articles from the top journals.
Content Comparison Summary
HeinOnline's law journal coverage, both indexing and full text, is the most comprehensive of the six databases we reviewed. Compared to HeinOnline:
- Westlaw* has 51% of the full text volumes and 51% of the indexed volumes
- Lexis has 39% of the full text volumes and 39% of the indexed volumes
- JSTOR has 25% of the full text volumes and 25% of the indexed volumes
- Gale LegalTrac has 5% of the full text volumes and 52% of the indexed volumes
- EBSCO Legal has 7% of the full text volumes and 13% of the indexed volumes
Access the original data, which reflects all volume counts and coverage information for the most-cited articles:
Access coverage information for full text and indexed content, as well as a list of the most-cited articles:
*For this study, an official, Westlaw-issued list of content and coverage was not found to be available. In addition to the list from Lancaster University, information was obtained from Cassidy Cataloguing. The coverage listed by Lancaster University may not be complete in many instances, as articles were often individually selected from within the content periods listed. In the interest of erring on the side of caution and because it was not possible to verify actual coverage, the coverage listed by Lancaster University was used, regardless of volume completeness. Therefore, coverage listed for Westlaw may be inflated. Please refer to the first Excel spreadsheet, column AM, for more information.