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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

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.

Another great place to check for background information is the Commentary page on this subject guide.  Use this page to get a better understanding of what commentary is in the legal research space, and use the links through to the legal databases.

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.  Look at the AGLC4 Legal Reference Module (see the box on the right or the module in StudyWISE) for a fuller explanation of citations.

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.

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.  

If you are wondering how to undertake Legal Research, look through the following texts for great explanations and ideas:

Researching & Writing in the LawTerry Hutchinson, 'Researching & Writing in Law'  (Thomson Reuters, 2018)

A Practical Guide to Legal Research - Jay Sanderson, Kim Kelly,  'A Practical Guide to Legal Research' (Thomson Reuters, 4th ed, 2017)

Methodologies of Legal Research: Which Kind of Method for What Kind of Discipline? - Mark van Hoecke (ed) 'Methodologies of Legal Research : Which Kind of Method for What Kind of Discipline?' (European Academy of Legal Theory series, ProQuest eBook Central, 2011)


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.

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).

Check out the material below to broaden your outlook on Australia's legal system.