This is the "Secondary Authority" page of the "Conducting Free, Lower Cost, and Other Electronic Legal Research" guide.
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Conducting Free, Lower Cost, and Other Electronic Legal Research  

Guide highlights the presentation of the same name offered in Oct 2015 at the USD Law School
Last Updated: Sep 1, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Secondary Authority Print Page

What is secondary authority?

Secondary Authority Authority that explains the law but does not itself establish it, such as a treatise, annotation, or law-review article. — Also termed secondary source.  AUTHORITY, Black's Law Dictionary (10th ed. 2014)

While secondary authority is not a source of law in the U.S. legal system, it is often an efficient way to research.  Secondary sources usually explain the law more clearly than statutes and cases, while including references to the applicable primary sources.

About Alumni Access to the HeinOnline Law Journal Library

What is the HeinOnline Law Journal Library?

The Law Journal Library is a comprehensive, PDF image-based collection of legal periodicals, containing over 1,800 law and law-related periodicals, including the South Dakota Law Review, among many others.  Coverage of each journal in the database begins from its inception.  More information on the Law Journal Library is available here.   

How do I register for the HeinOnline Law Journal Library?

Alumni interested in registering for remote access to the HeinOnline Law Journal Library should send an email to (two l's at the beginning) with the following information:  Name, Firm or Practice Name, Email, Telephone Number, and Law School Class Information (Year of Graduation).  A user name and password will be generated by the Law Library staff and sent by reply email.

Once registered, how do I access the HeinOnline Law Journal Library?

Registered users are able to access the database from the Law Library's website by clicking on the link titled Research Databases.   The link for ALUMNI access to the HeinOnline Law Journal Library should appear in the "Featured Databases" box at the top of the page.  (Note:  Clicking on the links for HeinOnline (for either in law-school use or remote access) from the "Most Frequently Used Databases" box or from the "H" box in the A-Z list will direct you to the student/faculty database and you will be denied access.)


Legal Encyclopedia

American Juriprudence Second (AMJUR2d) - May be accessible on a walk-in basis at undergraduate institutions subscribing to LexisNexis Academic



Low-cost alternatives for treatises are very limited.  

In the future, Fastcase may offer some access to treatises published by Wolters Kluwer (WK).  WK provides a lower cost alternative access to select treatises via LoislawConnect.  However, that service will terminate on November 30, 2015 and the current subscribers will begin accessing the treatises via Fastcase.  Some have speculated that Fastcase hopes to make the treatises available to a larger audience of Fastcase users in the future.  

LexisNexis Academic - If fiscal considerations prevent acquisition of titles via the Lexis Nexis Digital Library, some LexisNexis analytical materials are available via LexisNexis Academic. LexisNexis Academic is not, however, available remotely and users must visit an institution that provides access to LexisNexis Academic. 

Google Books - Google Books may provide a significant excerpt or only provide a snippet.  Google Books also provides a “Find in a library” link to search WorldCat for the closest print copy of the treatise.  


Law Reviews and Journal Articles

Google Scholar Article SearchGoogle Scholar is a freely accessible web search tool that indexes the full text or metadata of scholarly literature from a wide array of disciplines.  Google previously provided a link to the Google Scholar tool on its main search pages.  Although the link was removed in 2011 and despite criticisms that Google Scholar's search algorithm focuses results on older literature and that the tool permits inclusing of lesser quality works, the Google Scholar tool remains valuable for searching more schalarly multidisciplinary works.  

Digital Commons Network - Provides access for searching institutional repositories of faculty (and some student) publications, including the USD Law SelectedWorks sites including law faculty publications.


Social Science Research Network (SSRN) - While it does not provide as robust a search function as some other tools, SSRN provides access to not only published but also working papers.  SSRN is also multidisplinary in nature.  Abstracts from SSRN may also be indexed in Google Scholar searches.

HeinOnline Law Journal Library (for USD alumni)The Law Journal Library is a comprehensive, PDF image-based collection of legal periodicals, containing over 1,800 law and law-related periodicals among many others.  Coverage of each journal in the database begins from its inception.

Fastcase can be used to search content from law reviews available from HeinOnline.  However, the full-text content is not currently available via Fastcase without additional subscription costs.  As a result, USD alumni may desire to search Fastcase for law review and journal articles, but will need to access/retrieve the articles via the HeinOnline access provided by USD Law School at no cost.


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