Bachelor of Laws: Journals

A comprehensive guide to legal research created by the VU Law Library

Legal Journal Databases

Legal journals databases are useful tools that allow users to locate articles quickly by searching the contents of many journals simultaneously.  Some journals databases contain the full-text of the articles, some are only indexes and others, like AGIS, are a combination of the two.

AGIS Plus Text (Attorney Generals Information Service) - is the leading legal journals database in Australia. 

CaseBase - Primarily a citator, CaseBase can also be used as a journal index.  It is especially useful for locating journal articles that refer to cases.

Australian Public Affairs (APA-FT) - A broader database than AGIS, it indexes articles on current affairs, economics, humanities, literature, politics and social sciences as well as law. 

Westlaw World Journals - Over 1,000 full-text journals and law reviews.  Most titles are from the United States of America, United Kingdom and Canada. Some titles from other jurisdictions.

Hein Online - The Law Journal Library on Hein contains more than 2,000 law reviews of which more than 60 Australian. 

Law Journals

Journals are professional or academic serials (magazines) that are published at regular intervals.  Some law journals focus on a particular subject area.  For example, the Journal of Contract Law is an Australian publication that publishes articles on the subject of contract law.  Other journals, such as the Australian Bar Review, publish articles on a wide range of topics, including torts.  Articles in law journals provide the researcher with analysis and discussion of legal issues.  They offer expert opinions and interpretations of the law.

AGIS Plus Text

AGIS (Attorney Generals Information Service) is the leading legal journals database in Australia.  It is an index of Australian and New Zealand legal journals articles from 1975 to the present.  It contains records of articles published on all aspects of law.  AGIS allows the user to search across hundreds of different journals and locate articles in a number of ways including by:

  • Author
  • Title
  • Subject
  • Jurisdiction
     

Once the record of an article is found, AGIS provides the user with information about the article including:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Citation
  • A list of the cases referred to in the article
  • A list of the legislation referred to in the article
  • An abstract summarizing the article

Many of the more recent records will have the full text of the article attached.  Where it is not, most libraries will provide a link back to their catalogue or other journal finding system to assist users to find the full-text elsewhere.

 

To locate a journal article by author name
At least to begin with, it is good practice when searching by name to only search by surname.  The way the first name of an author is used may vary over time and from one database to another.  For example, an author with the name John Devereux might appear as J Devereux or John Devereux.
1. Choose Advanced Search
2. Enter the Surname of the author in the Search Query box
3. Choose Author from the drop-down menu immediately to the right of the Search Query box
4. Click on Search

 

To locate a journal article by title
Unlike a library catalogue, AGIS contains both the titles of the journals and the titles of the articles that are published within journals.  
1. Enter the title of the article into the Search Query box.  If you are confident that you know the exact title, enter it within double quote marks.  If not, or if the title is long, enter the main words from the title with the Boolean operator AND between each word or a combination of the two as shown in the example below.
2. Choose Title from the drop-down menu immediately to the right of the search query box
3. Click on Search

 

To locate journal articles by subject
Compared to the journal articles that they index, the records in AGIS are very concise.  While the records in AGIS do contain a subject field, in most instances it is better to search across all the fields.  That way a search will benefit from information held in the title, subject, abstract and other fields.
1. Choose Advanced Search
2. Enter the search terms into the Search Query box.  It is essential to use Boolean operators.  Note the Boolean operators must be entered in UPPER CASE Remember that you are searching an index.  Try to think of what words and phrases might appear in records describing the articles being sought.
3. Click on Search

" " 


Example: "gratuitous care" AND (award OR damages)

Note that the Boolean operator OR is used in connection with round brackets to group alternative terms together.

 

Using AGIS to Find Peer Reviewed Articles

HeinOnline

HeinOnline is an excellent resource for both international and Australian law journal articles. 

Guide to finding journal articles on HeinOnline

Journal Article

The details required in order are: author of the article - full first name (where possible) and surname; article title (in single quotation marks); publication year (in round brackets); volume number; issue number (in round brackets); journal title (in italics and capitalised, omitting words such as ‘The’ and ‘An’ from the beginning); starting page number, pinpoint reference to a specific page or pages (if applicable).

" "

Example: H J Glasbeek, 'Contortions of Corporate Law: James Hardie Reveals Cracks in Liberal Law's Armour' (2012) 27(2) Australian Journal of Corporate Law 132.

 
  FOOTNOTE CITATION EXAMPLE BIBLIOGRAPHY/REFERENCE LIST EXAMPLE
Journal article - single author 14 Robert French, 'The Role of the High Court in the Recognition of Native Title' (2002) 30(2) University of Western Australian Law Review 129, 131. French, Robert, 'The Role of the High Court in the Recognition of Native Title' (2002) 30(2) University of Western Australian Law Review 129
Journal article - two authors 15 Kathy Bowrey and Natalie Fowell, 'Digging Up Fragments and Building IP Franchises' (2009) 31 Sydney Law Review 185. Bowrey, Kathy and Natalie Fowell, 'Digging Up Fragments and Building IP Franchises' (2009) 31 Sydney Law Review 185
Journal article - three authors 16 Matthew Alderton, Michael Granziera and Martin Smith, 'Judicial Review and Jurisdictional Errors: The Recent Migration Jurisprudence of the High Court of Australia' (2011) 18(3) Australian Journal of Administraive Law 138. Alderton, Matthew, Michael Granziera and Martin Smith, 'Judicial Review and Jurisdictional Errors: The Recent Migration Jurisprudence of the High Court of Australia' (2011) 18(3) Australian Journal of Administraive Law 138
Journal article - four or more authors 17 Darren Bick et al, 'A Gold Mine for Environmental Class Actions in Australia?' (2010) 25(9-10) Australian Environment Review 8. Bick, Darren et al, 'A Gold Mine for Environmental Class Actions in Australia?' (2010) 25(9-10) Australian Environment Review 8
Newspaper article 18 Chris Griffith, 'Bunnies Still Run After Day in Court' The Courier Mail (Brisbane), 30 July 2002, 3. Griffith, Chris, 'Bunnies Still Run After Day in Court' The Courier Mail (Brisbane), 30 July 2002
Electronic journal 19 Lyndon Griggs, `Torrens Title in a Digital World' (2001) 8(3) E-Law Murdoch University Electronic Journal of Law [16] <http://www.murdoch.edu.au/elaw/issues/v8n3/griggs83.html>. Griggs, Lyndon, `Torrens Title in a Digital World' (2001) 8(3) E Law Murdoch University Electronic Journal of Law <http://www.murdoch.edu.au/elaw/ issues/v8n3/ griggs83.html>