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Researching Secondary Law Resources

Finding journal articles

Why isn't my textbook enough?

Textbooks are a good starting point for legal research, but you cannot rely on them solely for the complete answer to a problem. Textbooks, for example, may be out of date and not cover recent changes to legislation or case law. It may be that the topic you are researching is not covered in sufficient depth within textbooks. Or perhaps your topic is so recent that no textbooks on the subject are available.

Journal articles provide you with more recent information and will usually look at one topic in detail. Like textbooks, they will also alert you to major cases and legislation. Journal articles can also be used for historical research to determine what was being discussed about a particular issue at a given point in time.



If you haven’t already mapped out your research process, visit the Your first steps in legal research guidance.

Start your searching with the Library

Deakin Library Search allows you to search across the majority of subscription databases. Use Advanced Search to find research on specific topics. If you have a journal citation use the Library’s A-Z Journals and Newspapers index to search and access the full-text of the journal. This index is also useful for checking whether journal is a peer reviewed and high-quality resource.    

Be aware that some law databases are not indexed by Library Search. It can be more efficient to go directly to a specific database for law journal articles. This means your results will be focused on legal research and avoid other discipline content.

Understand your journal citation

Journal articles are cited so that you can identify each part of the reference. All of which helps you search for them.  

The following reference provides citation details for an article on confidential communications with lawyers. Drag the slider to explore the different parts of this reference.

Finding a specific journal article

Watch this short 2.53 min video for a quick demonstration of how to search and access a specific journal article.

What is Find it @ Deakin?

You will sometimes see a FIND IT @ DEAKIN link when you are searching for journal articles, and the full text is not immediately available.
FIND IT @ DEAKIN will provide you with possible options for locating the full text of the article if it is not available in full text from the database you are using.
Clicking on the FIND IT @ DEAKIN link will provide a link to other databases, to the library website, and other possible sources.

Basic search tips for searching in legal databases

Download the ‘Basic Search Tips for Major Legal Databases’ document for a summary of the wildcards and connectors used in popular legal databases.

Basic Search Tips for Major Legal Databases

Choosing a specific database for law journal articles

The library provides access to different high-quality and peer-reviewed law journal databases. To be an efficient researcher, you need to choose the databases best suited to your research topic.

Here's one easy way to choose a database:  


For guidance on searching a specific database, select the database you are interested in from the left menu under the Finding Journal Articles heading. These databases have been listed in an order of preference from Australian databases to recommended international databases.