Skip to main content

Preemption Checking

What is a Preemption Check?

The preemption check acts as background research on your topic. The last thing you want is to go through the whole process of researching and writing your paper, only to find out that you've been scooped. To avoid this, before you begin researching, you need to check to make sure that no one else has already written about your chosen topic. This check seeks to find if, and how pervasively, your topic has been written about in order to narrow your topic or focus. It will help you find any and all articles that have been published or accepted that address any part of your topic, so that you can respond to their arguments, alter your focus, or choose a new topic as necessary. 

This CALI lesson provides step-by-step instructions for the preemption check process. If you need the CALI.org authorization code, stop by the Reference Desk during walk-up hours.

To be sure your topic hasn't been preempted, you'll need to carefully search several print and electronic resources (including other disciplinary resources). This guide provides links to some of the available resources that will aid in your preemption check. 

Note: It is important to review the results of your preemption check and not just the titles or abstracts. Review enough of the gathered materials to understand if your particular nuanced idea is actually discussed. 

Performing a Preemption Check

To be sure your topic hasn't been preempted, you'll need to carefully search several databases and review the results. See the "Locating Relevant Articles" box below for a list of the most useful databases. Also, keep in mind that if you're doing interdisciplinary research, journals that cover the other discipline(s) might have relevant articles too. See the "Key Resources" tab for guidance on locating these journals for your seminar topic.

Once you've gathered a list of articles that might discuss your topic, be sure to at least skim them. You probably don't need to read every article in its entirety, but be sure you read enough to understand what each one is about - it might turn out that while a lot of articles discuss your topic, none of them address the particular aspect that you want to write about. It's OK if someone has written on your topic as long as you add an original idea to the scholarly discussion. It may also be OK if someone has put forth a similar argument if they are discussing a different jurisdiction or if their work is out-of-date.

Other useful guides (note that many of these guides have links to subscription-only resources):

Library Catalogs

Locate print and electronic resources in either of the following Texas A&M University catalogs by subject or topic, keyword, or author. 

Working Papers

Newspapers & Current Awareness

Electronic Databases

Periodicals