Research Guide for Biotechnology and the Law

 ***THIS is an ARCHIVED guide. It may contain BROKEN links. Its value is HISTORICAL only.***

Current Research Guides 

Spring 2001
© Katrina Stierholz, Washington University School of Law Library


This guide is written to assist students of Professor Rai's Biotechnology and the Law seminar.  It is intended to serve as a starting point--it is not the end all, be all, for research in this area. The guide particularly focusses on the biotechnology aspects of your research.  For a more general guide on research, check out the Researching Your Scholarly Paper guide.  If you cannot find the information you seek, please come see me or another librarian for more assistance.

Getting Started 

BioLaw: A Legal and Ethical Reporter on Medicine, Health Care, and Bioengineering
KF3821.A6 B58 
This looseleaf is a great way to get an overview of your topic. BioLaw has sections on various topics, with each yearly volume adding new subjects. Each year updates to many of the topics are issued, along with new articles on timely topics. Each year has new articles, along with updates of older material--you need to check every year to get all the information on your subject.

Encyclopedia of Ethical, Legal, and Policy Issues in Biotechnology.  Thomas H. Murray, Maxwell J. Mehlman, eds. New York : John Wiley & Sons, c2000.
TP248.16 .E539 2000 [Law Reference]

Patent Law Fundamentals
KF3114 .R66 1980 [Reserve]
A looseleaf on patent law.  

Legal Materials 


The official source for federal codified law is the United States Code (U.S.C.), but the commercially published United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.) and United States Code Service (U.S.C.S.) are often more useful for research. They are updated more frequently and include annotations. Copies of all are in the Reading Room, and USC and USCA are also on the Fifth Floor in the Federal Materials section. The annotated codes are also available full text online: the U.S.C.S. is on Lexis (Lexis Source: USCS - United States Code Service; Code, Const, Rules, Conventions & PLs), and the U.S.C.A. is on Westlaw (Westlaw Database: USCA).

Current state statutes are available on Lexis and Westlaw. The library also has paper copies: Missouri in the Reading Room, and other states on the first floor. If you want to do a state-by-state comparison of a statutory issue, you might want to see if anyone has done the work already. Try Nyberg's-- Subject Compilations of State Laws [KF 1 .F672]. The current edition is kept as part of the Reference Collection (ask for it at the Circulation Desk). Previous editions are in the stacks. Another place to search is LegalTrac. You might find a journal article on your topic which discusses various state laws.

Cases (Federal and State)
For this course checking in Biolaw: A Legal and Ethical Reporter on Medicine, Health Care, and Bioengineering [KF 3821.A6 B58] first may well be the best course of action. It is a looseleaf with cases and commentary. See the Getting Started section for more details about this tool.

Cases for federal and state law may also be located by using the appropriate digest. The Federal and regional reporters are on the fifth floor. Digests for Federal and Missouri are in the Reading Room. All state reporters and digests are on the first floor, ordered alphabetically by state.

Lexis and Westlaw will also provide access to federal and state case law. For an online search, start with a relatively unique set of facts or search the digests first to get headnote/topic titles.

Administrative Rules and Regulations (Federal and State)
Federal and state administrative agencies promulgate rules and regulations to carry out statutory mandates. Notices of federal rules and regulations are first published in the Federal Register. Once a rule becomes final, it is codified into the Code of Federal Regulations.Lexis and Westlaw provide access to the CFR and the Federal Register. GPO Access, an excellent source for federal government laws and regulations, is another source.

Missouri provides access to its Code of State Regulations (CSR) via the web at The Secretary of State for Missouri also publishes the Missouri Register, where new and proposed rules are announced. We have hard copy of both of these items in the library--the CSR is on Reserve and in the Reading Room and the Missouri Register is on the first floor, with the Missouri primary source materials. Other states also publish their regulations and most are available on the web. For those states that do not have a web-accessible code of regulations, the library purchases the print version and shelves them on the 1st floor with the other State primary materials. To locate any state's regulatory information on the web, use the National Association of Secretaries of State web site.

Books: Search Online Catalogs
You might also find books or journals which cover your subject. The following chart provides links to online catalogs. Use these sources to find books or journal titles. You can try keyword searches using specific words for your issues. For example, the terms drugs patents brings up 21 records. You can also try a subject search. Useful subject headings are Genetic Engineering,Drugs--Law and Legislation, Biotechnology, and Biotechnology Industries. For WorldCat, you will need to request the item via Interlibrary Loan (use the online form at /library/pages.aspx?id=1138). Please do not use the link in WorldCat. If you cannot find a book with any of these sources, stop by the Reference Desk or ask a librarian.

Catalog  Contents & Comments 
Law Library  Start searching here.
WU Hilltop Libraries  Don't forget to search the entire campus (excluding Med). Many policy materials will be held at Olin.
Washington University's Medical Library  Try using a keyword search and from there following the

A union catalog of academic libraries in Missouri--includes all libraries in the University of Missouri system and Saint Louis University. One can make a request that a book be delivered to the Law Library. Great source but due dates are short.

WorldCat (over 40 million items) Use this source last. Best for very focussed searches. Do not use the ILL connection within WorldCat, use our online Interlibrary Loan form to request items not available here on campus.

Journal Articles 

Journal articles are also likely to be a great source of information. The chart below lists general legal and non-legal databases as well as some specific to biotechnology. Once you find an article you want, check the online catalog to see if we have the Journal title. The Law Library's current journals are kept on Reserve (Circulation Desk); the older journals are bound and shelved on the 5th floor, in alphabetical order. These search the many different journals and newspapers. Each has slightly different coverage. Current law journals are held behind the circulation desk--after they are bound, they are shelved on the 5th floor. The non-law journal titles will need to be searched in the catalog to determine location. If the title isn't held on campus, the library can obtain it via Interlibrary Loan. Just fill out the online form, and we'll do the rest.

Source  Coverage  Content and Comments 
LegalTrac  1980 - A database of legal newspapers and journals, including law reviews.
Index to Legal Periodicals  1981 - Another database of law reviews.
Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals  1985 - Great source if you're studying the international/foreign/comparative aspects of the topic.
Biotechnology Journals on the Web    Some full-text, some only provide table of contents.  Use Interlibrary Loan online form to request items unavailable in full-text.
PAIS  1972 - Indexes and abstracts books, periodical articles, and government publications in the fields of public affairs and public policy.
Expanded Academic Index  1980 - Covers all subjects, indexes scholarly articles and the New York Times.
Web of Science  1988 - A multidisciplinary database, with searchable author abstracts, covering the journal literature of the sciences. A great source for the scientists viewpoint on your topic.

Web Resources for Biotechnology and the Law 

State Department's Global Issues:  Biotechnology  Contains International Agreements, U.S. Regulations & information, International information, and links to industry associations.  Also includes policy information for the United States.  Excellent links from this page!
Biotechnology:  An Information Resource from the National Agriculture Library Because it is organized by the Agriculture library, it has a heavy emphasis on plant and food issues.
DNA Patent Database  Database of all DNA patents issued by the United States Patent Office.
US Patent Database  Database of all patents issued by the US Patent Office since 1976 (plus images of all patents issued since 1790).
Patent Law Materials from the Legal Information Institute A good basic site for information about patents and patent law.
Biotechnology Industry Organization  The links page for this industry organization. 
Biotechnology Information Directory from Cato Research Another good collection of links.

Government Publications 

These works will prove useful for anyone studying federal government policy, regulations, or law. Generally, most federal documents are housed in our Government Documents collection on Level 2. They are shelved by SuDoc number, which organizes the material by issuing agency. Please see a reference librarian if you have any problems finding the material.

Source  Coverage  Notes 

Marcive WebDocs

1976-present Indexes all federal documents distributed through Federal Depository Library Program.
Congressional Universe 
1789-present Indexes Congressional publications (some available full-text). Only available in A-B Hall.
Google UncleSam  varies Google's search engine, focused only on those sites that have the .gov suffix.

 Last updated August 30, 2004