Secondary sources

5. Journal articles

Journal articles provide a topical discussion of legal issues, cases and legislative developments. While journal articles can provide more in-depth coverage of an issue than either a legal encyclopaedia or dictionary, it is important to keep in mind that they may not always reflect current law.

Your lecturers may require you to use information from academic journal articles that are peer reviewed. Peer review (also known as refereeing) is a process where other scholars in the same field (peers) evaluate the quality of a research paper before it's published. The aim is to ensure that the work is rigorous, coherent, and based on sound research. Watch Peer Review Articles (YouTube, 1m51s)

Interpreting journal citations

The example below will help you identify the parts of a journal citation. The annotated screenshot below will indicate where on the page you can find the elements of the following citation:

David Hamer, 'Keating v Morris: Leck v Morris: Politics and Procedure in the ‘Dr Death’ Inquiry’ (2006) 25(10) University of Queensland Law Journal 131.

  • Author/s: David Hamer
  • Article title: 'Keating v Morris: Leck v Morris: Politics and Procedure in the "Dr Death" Inquiry’
  • Year of publication: 2006
  • Volume and issue number: 25(10) (if the volume and issue numbers are not apparent on the article itself, check the spine of the print book or the online record)
  • Journal title: University of Queensland Law Journal
  • Commencing page number: 131

Locating journal articles by citation

If you have the citation of the journal article you are looking for, you may be able to locate it by searching for the article title or by journal title.

For example, for the citation Graeme Coss, 'Provocation, Law Reform and the Medea Syndrome' (2004) 28 Criminal Law Journal 133:

  1. Go to Library Search
  2. Enter the article title as a phrase search — "Provocation, Law Reform and the Medea Syndrome"  
  3. Verify that the result is the correct Journal, author, year, volume, page number etc
  4. Click on the title to access or locate the article.

Alternatively, use Library Search to find the journal title. This will help you verify:

  1. whether the library holds the journal
  2. if it is published online or in print
  3. which database holds the journal
  4. which volumes/years are held.

 Watch Finding the full-text of a particular journal article (YouTube, 2m56s)


Find the article by Stelios Tofaris and published in the Cambridge Law Journal on 'Duty of Care in Negligence: A Return to Orthodoxy?' using Library Search. What page does this article commence on?
    Check your answer