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Getting Started in Research for a Thesis: Document

This guide will help law PhD and MPhil students to begin their legal research using the University Library's resources

Document your research

Keep a record of

  • search terms
  • search strategies
  • databases searched
  • the number of results.

This helps to

  • Identify the most relevant terms
  • reduces duplication of searches in the same databases.

Record full bibliographic details and 

  • what you found
  • when you found
  • where you found it (eg web site address, the date accessed etc).

Citing and Referencing

Style Guides

The predominant citation style used in Australia for legal materials is the Australian Guide to Legal Citation, 3rd edition 2010 (AGLC3). It is published by the student staff of the Melbourne University Law Review (MULR) and the Melbourne Journal of International Law (MJIL).

A non printable PDF version is available for downloading.

Go to Re:cite to quickly check various citation styles, including AGLC. If you have a particularly curly question and have a Twitter account post your questions to @AGLCTweets.

Reference Management Software

Booking a class

The Law Library runs regular classes on Zotero, which has become very popular with graduate research students. To find and book into a Zotero workshop, go to the Research Classes on the Law Library homepage.


If you are not sure which one is the best for you, read this summary that compares Endnote, Refworks and Zotero.The University Library also provides workshops on EndNote.

Create Permanent Links to Web Pages

Perma is used by legal researchers to create a permanent archived version of a web page and to assign a permanent URL to that web page that can be used in research in general as well as publications.

For more information on Perma and how to register go to Perma Reearch Guide.


Work in progress ....

Data Management Training

Managing Data @Melbourne is the University's research data management training program. It consists of six short modules, which outline the fundamental practices of good data management. Develop the skills you need to draft your research data management plan.

Managing Data @Melbourne Online program title

File management

Folders and file naming

  • Create a logical folder structure
  • Avoid special characters, for example ?\!@%{}<>
  • Avoid vague or generic file names
  • Name files consistently.

Version control
At its most basic level, this could be a clear sequence of your thesis drafts, allowing you to go back and revisit sections and ideas that you may have revised, deleted or moved. 

Establish a method that makes sense to you but that would also allow others to identify the different versions of your data files.


Examples of good file naming practices

  • Chapter_1_v01_2016-12-01.doc
  • Jones_interview_16-11-08_v02_REVISED.doc

Storage and Backing up

Cloudstor+ for storage and sharing of non-sensitive research data, supporting up to 100 GB storage for free with servers operated by an Australian University-owned company.

Dropbox is relatively secure, though data are held in servers overseas and is only suitable for data that is not private or confidential.

Microsoft OneDrive is an alternative to Dropbox, Is provided to all of the University’s students, has large amount of storage and located on onshore servers. A downside of OneDrive is that your account will expire when your University enrolment ends.

Note, always have three back-ups of your work in different storage mediums.

For more information on the data storage offered by the University of Melbourne, please refer to the Research Platforms Data Storage and Management page.

Sensitive data

If your data contain personal information cloud storage should never be used for identifiable, non-anonymous data, unless there is a specific contract in place with your institution.

Sensitive information includes information or opinion about an individual’s:

  • health or genetic information
  • racial or ethnic origin
  • political opinions
  • membership of a political association
  • religious beliefs or affiliations
  • philosophical beliefs
  • membership of a professional or trade association
  • membership of a trade union
  • sexual preferences or practices
  • criminal record.

More information on how to deal with sensitive information, go to Research Ethics and Integrity website.