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Comparative Constitutional Law: Research Path

Introduction to this Guide

globeThis guide is intended to provide research sources for Comparative Constitutional Law seminar students. 

Source: Drake Law Library (Photo by Karen Wallace)

A Recommended Research Strategy

  • Find a good topic. A crucial step in the writing process, topic selection merits careful consideration. Methods for identifying topics include reviewing:
  • Map out a tentative research plan that includes possible search terms and sources. Revise it as you learn more about your topic.
  • Document what you've tried and record citations for any information found.
  • Start with the big picture. Find a current, short introduction to your topic such as:
    • A short introductory book or book chapter (can be located via the SuperSearch catalog; see the books tab in this guide for subject heading suggestions).
    • Information from a blog or website from a reputable scholar, organization, or news outlet.
    • An article (or segment thereof) that provides an overview (try SSRN for forthcoming articles; search for articles using SuperSearch or resources suggested on the articles tab of this guide).
  • Use secondary sources to enhance your knowledge and to research sub-topics and legal issues you've identified as relevant. Options include:
  • Research guides are a type of secondary source that will familiarize you with sources and strategies for a particular topic or country. Try these approaches to identify them:
    • Run a Google search for <keywords representing your topic or jurisdiction> research guide (e.g. South Africa legal research guide or comparative criminal procedure research guide).
    • Access a guide through a portal like GlobaLex, the Library of Congress' Guide to Law Online: the Nations of the World, or
  • Identify full text sources for the cases and legislation that are cited in the articles and books you've found. Have realistic expectations about what you'll be able to find translated into English. Take a look at a research guide about the country to identify available sources or talk to a librarian.
  • Law review articles commonly analyze the significance of a single case or statute, so look for articles that explain how your case or statute impacts the legal landscape. If articles aren't available, try looking at news coverage for a more succinct summary of the law or case's importance.
  • Consider interdisciplinary resources. For example, if you are examining the impact of religion or social mores on abortion rights in other countries, you will likely find useful information in databases that focus on religion or sociology as well as in legal databases. Note that SuperSearch includes many interdisciplinary sources, but the search capabilities are more limited than if you directly search another database. 
  • Research isn't linear. As you work through these steps, you'll likely discover additional sub-topics or legal issues you need to explore. Loop back through the process until you have examined all potentially relevant angles.
  • Don't hesitate to reach out to a librarian. You can use your Drake email account to email us a request for reference assistance. Choose the link corresponding to your device:


Foreign law refers to the laws of individual foreign countries.

Comparative law compares aspects of the laws or legal systems of two or more countries.

Public international law governs legal relations between countries, referred to as nation-states or states, and other international entities.

Private international law concerns laws related to private persons (e.g., individuals or companies) in situations that cross country borders.

Guides to International/Foreign Legal Research

Books on Academic Writing

Widely recommended books for law students writing papers are:

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