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Library Searching

Background reading

Use MultiSearch to find electronic and hard-copy books for your research.

Q. Do some background reading on Islamic Law

Tip! Try the Browse Search option.

Select 'Browse by subject' and type 'islamic law' in the search box. Choose a subject from the list to view the books available on that subject.

Finding Journals

To find journal articles, search for the article title through MultiSearch. If that doesn't work, try looking for the journal title in MultiSearch using advanced search.

Q. Find a full-text copy of the article '"Hands off my charges!"' [2006] NZLJ 425

Note that "Hands off my charges!" is the article title and NZLJ is the journal title.

To search using a journal title you will need to find out its full title. Use the Abbreviation tools list. 

Select Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations > Search by Abbreviation > type nzlj > take note of the full title New Zealand Law Journal.

LAW115 Introduction to legal research

If you would like to improve your legal researching skills, use the linked documents below to work through a legal research problem that requires you to use several of the databases common to Law.

You can test your knowledge by trying the Worksheet, or use the Worksheet with Answers to be guided through the research process.

Australia's Legal System

In Australia, there are two parts to the legal system:

  • Legislation - made by Parliament
  • Common Law (also known as Case Law or Judge-made law):
    • where a judge will interpret the legislation if it is unclear; or
    • if there is no legislation, make a decision based on prior cases (known as precedents).

These videos from the State Library of NSW explain the process of making laws.

Starting your research

If you need help analysing your topic or developing a list of keywords for searching, look through the Think, Find, Write, Cite tab.

Primary legal materials are the authoritative records of law. These are:

  • Legislation made by Parliament
  • Rules, regulations, orders and by-laws of bodies that have delegated authority to administer these laws
  • Authoritative reports of court decisions or case law

image of an historical book

Secondary sources of law refer, discuss and help locate the law but are not primary sources.  They can help in understanding the law in specific areas.  If you don't know much about a topic start with general information and work towards more specific sources:

eg. Legal dictionaries > legal encyclopedias > text books > journal articles.