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Legal Research Skills

What are secondary sources?

Secondary sources are those that evaluate, explain or define the law and include:

  • Dictionaries: define key terms
  • Encyclopaedias: provide an overview of a legal topic
  • Books: discuss and analyse legal topics or issues
  • Commentary: update and comment on legal topics
  • Journal articles: provide original research and scholarly analysis of the law

It is often best to use secondary sources at the beginning of your research to get a good overview of your legal topic. Secondary sources will also reference the key primary materials. 

Key databases for secondary sources

Australian Legal Research Skills ebook

Finding books in the library

Type author, title or keywords into the library collections search box below:

This short video demonstrates how to find a copy of a particular textbook.

Tutorial: Updating the law using secondary sources

Complete this tutorial to learn about the different types of secondary sources that can you update the law. Click at the bottom-right corner to expand to full size.