30 Introduction to Secondary Sources

Secondary sources are a useful starting point when researching an unfamiliar area of law or legal concept. They provide background information, context, topic and concept overviews, expert analysis, and references to key primary sources. While secondary sources are not authoritative versions of the law, they are beneficial for developing your understanding of legal concepts. Examples of secondary sources include:

  • legal dictionaries and encyclopaedias
  • books
  • looseleaf services (commentaries)
  • journal articles
  • newspaper articles, reports and some material found on websites, blogs etc.

Evaluating Secondary Sources

You are expected to use high quality, reputable and scholarly information sources throughout your university law study. Consequently, it is important to critically evaluate secondary sources, especially web-based sources, to determine whether the information is credible and suitable for academic use. Currency, authority and jurisdiction are of particular relevance for law resources. Refer to your university library’s resources for more help and specific criteria for evaluating information.


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Legal Research Skills: An Australian Law Guide: 2024 JCU Edition Copyright © 2024 by James Cook University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.