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Law Topics A-C

Contemporary Legal Issues

Overview of research process and resources

  1. Consult the reference materials to see your topic in jurisdictional context and to confirm the definition:
    Dictionaries and Encyclopaedias
    • Check jurisdictional sources - in particular the Max Planck Encyclopaedia of Public International Law.  Find books and eBooks for background and context - do not neglect the multidisciplinary nature of this topic.
  2. Review journal articles on your topic: Use FiNDit, and specialist databases on the left.
    • Consult the libraries subject guides for hints on specialist sites and resources relevant to the topic. The guides for politics, social justice, sociology and medicine are likely to contain links and information which could help clarify the issue you are investigating.
  3. Review news sources - Thomson Reuters Westlaw
  4. Law Reform documents
  5. Other relevant sources of information:

Australian Sources

International Sources

Primary materials:

Legislative materials: Look at Hansard, Bills and Explanatory Memoranda for policy and background to recent legislative changes.

Case law: Check the status of a case before you refer to it.  In some areas of law the status of a case can be very dynamic and citations to it contentious.

Treaties:  Consult the Australian Treaties Library on AustLII  to verify the status and ratification of any treaty to which you refer.

Contemporary Commentary - Newspapers on TR Westlaw

The following is a sample search to illustrate the advanced search option to find news articles about the United Nations Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in relation to Australia.


  1. Phrases: Identify key phrases and put them in quotation marks eg. "United Nations" "Civil and Political Rights"
  2. Alternative terms: Identify alternative terms and put them in brackets eg. ("Civil and Political Rights" ICCPR).  In Thomson Reuters Westlaw (formerly Thomson Reuters Westlaw (formerly WestlawNext)) a space equals OR.
  3. Proximity: Consider how close the terms should be to each other for a meaningful 'relationship'.  /p means in the same paragraph, /s in the same sentence.
  4. Date Range


Look at the Help button in the blue bar at the top right hand of the WL window for additional searching hints and suggestions.

When you look at the Result List and you find a relevant item make sure you look at the Related Info tab which may link to encyclopaedias, books, journal articles and primary materials.