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Researching Secondary Law Sources

Getting started with researching secondary law sources

This introductory legal research guide will step you through how to search in legal databases for secondary law sources.

Read through the outlines below to learn what is covered in each section of this guide. You can navigate to these sections via the menu on the left.


  Research overview:  This section provides general guidance on how to undertake a systematic approach to legal research.  It contains useful short videos on:

  • Identifying your search terms
  • Information searching techniques
  • Evaluating information sources

  Finding books: This section provides information on how to locate quality textbooks, including e-books in the Deakin Library.



  Finding journal articles: Deakin Library provides access to a  large number of high quality law journal databases.  Start in this section for guidance on how to choose your search terms using the Search Planner. This section also provides step-by-step instructions on how to search in the following subscription legal databases:

Australian journal databases

  • AGIS Plus TextMagnifying glass on clipboard

  • CaseBase (Lexis Advance)

  • WestlawAU Journals

International journal databases

  • HeinOnline

  • Westlaw UK Journals

  • Thomson Reuters Westlaw

  • Lexis Advance US Research

  • Oxford Journals Online

 Dictionaries: For any legal research, you need to understand the legal terminology. This may include researching for the legal definition of commonly used words in the English language. This section provides information on the most useful legal dictionaries.


 Legal Encyclopaedias:  Legal encyclopaedias provide an overview of particular areas of Australian law, including references to the relevant cases and legislation. This section provides step-by-step instructions on how to search in the two major Australian legal encyclopaedias.

 News sources: This section provides a collection of news and media resources. 



 Law Reform Commission publications: This section provides information on how to find Australian federal, state and territory law commission reports and publications.


 Citing Secondary Sources: Examples of how to reference secondary law sources using the AGLC4 referencing style.