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Research support for Law Graduate Researchers

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

  Where to search

New Scholarship

Unclear on where to get started? Email us at: law-library@unimelb.edu.au 

  Constructing searches

Search connectors

All databases have readily available onscreen help information to assist in constructing more complex searches using different fields or by using eg: Boolean and proximity operators, and truncation and wildcards.

Note: the operators used in each database vary, so be sure to check the onscreen help to ensure you are using the correct symbols.

Not getting good results?

Advanced Search options

Check which fields you are actually searching within, some databases exclude full text searches by default.

Alternative terminology and spelling 

Terminology commonly changes across jurisdictions, variant spelling exists and language shifts over time. Incorporate alternative terminology (e.g. competition law/antitrust) generate synonyms, and use spelling variations (example: labour / labor) or use a wildcard symbol to ensure all relevant results are returned. Some databases will include variant spelling, others won't.

Found something great? Find related material

Using Subject Headings

If you find a good article, use the SUBJECT headings to find more articles.

Mine citations

Use the article's reference list or bibliography to find related material. Some databases will also provide information about subsequent citation of an article or work (e.g. Google Scholar, Scopus and Web of Science) Note, these are not exhaustive lists of where the work has been cited - many legal scholarship sources are not picked up in these records. Search using the article title, in double quotes, in full-text fields of legal databases to find mentions of it in footnotes or reference lists.

Check the author's or research centre's other publications

You may find these on Institutional or public profile pages (e.g. ORCiD or Google Scholar Profiles).

Journal and Database coverage

Database Date Ranges

Be alert to the date ranges of databases. Most databases commence in the early to mid-1980s. If you are looking for earlier legal periodicals, try searching the following databases.

 Methodological resources

Aside from your substantive research question, the library can provide resources for better understanding your research process. Doctrinal research print materials can be found in the law library collection, but empirical research guidance will generally be held in other branch collections. There are also ebooks, research handbooks and sometimes video series available to explain and assist with different research methodologies. All can be found via the library catalogue.

Keep current with alerts

You can keep up to date with court decisions, new scholarship, news and other publications by setting up alerts.

Tip

Your University of Melbourne student email account is provided by GSuite. You can create variant email addresses to more easily manage your email alerts and mail rules. Note - this does not apply to staff email addresses.

How?

Gmail does not recognise or distinguish between addresses with full stops, or any characters after a + symbol in the name field. When signing up for alerts, you can provide variant email addresses and create a mail rule that any message sent to that address goes into its own folder  - e.g. FirstnameLastname+westlaw@student.unimelb.edu.au, Firstname.Lastname@student.unimelb.edu.au, and FirstnameLastname@student.unimelb.edu.au will all successfully send to you.