Journal articles


Finding legal journal articles can be difficult. The journal may be available in print, or in one of many different databases. It's not always possible to search all legal databases at once, so you have to search each one individually. This guide descibes the best databases and suggests search strategies for finding relevant journals and articles for your research.

Find a particular journal

If you are looking for a specific article or journal, use Te Waharoa which is available from the library homepage.

Browse search allows you to find library items using title headings. You can browse by title in alphabetical order and click on a heading to view matching records.

Search on the journal name and it will give you links to the databases where you can find the journal.

A note of caution: not all journals and articles are available through Te Waharoa. Westlaw and Lexis Advance do not always make their material available. If you can't find it in Te Waharoa, try Westlaw  and Lexis Advance.  For a complete list of journals included in Thomson Reuters Westlaw click here.

Identify an unknown citation

What if you have a citation to a journal article, but don't recognise the name of the journal?

It's easy to find the journal name. Just use the Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations, an online tool that tells you the name of a journal or case reporter from the abbreviation. So searching for Tul. L. Rev., as shown in the first screenshot below, tells you that the abbreviation stands for Tulane Law Review, as in the second screenshot. You can then go to Journal Finder to see whether we have the journal.

Find journals on a topic

The following journal databases allow you to find a journal on a given legal topic. Follow the tips below to find journals on your topic of interest.

Find journals from a jurisdiction

If you're looking for journals from a particular jurisdiction:

New Zealand: try Westlaw NZLexis AdvanceHein Online.

Australia: try Hein OnlineAGISWestlaw NZLexis Advance Lexis has Australian content in two places: LexisNexis Research the homepage, change the flag to Australia - click on  the drop down search everything and select secondary materials.  Or use the browse at the top on the home bar and  - browse -Australia - content type - AU secondary materials.  

There are also Australian journals and law reviews in the international section.  Change LexisNexis Research to US Research, it should default to International, then select Australia  and then All Australia Law Reviews and Journals.

Other countries: try Hein OnlineThomson Reuters WestlawLexis Advance.  

In Lexis Advance be aware that as described above for Australia there are journals in two parts of the database.  LexisNexis Research and US Research.

In Hein Online, click on Law Journal Library then on Browse By: Country.

In Thomson Reuters Westlaw, click on World Journals on the right, then select country.

New Zealand and Australian law journals

New Zealand journals

Begin with Westlaw New Zealand. Click on Journals. A free text search is a good way to start. Use quotemarks to search for phrases, and use AND between different words or phrases. For example "self defence" will find the exact phrase "self defence", whereas self defence will find either of those words.

This will give you a list of articles. Click on the title to open the article. However note that not all articles listed in Westlaw are available in full text. Westlaw has a very useful collection called the New Zealand Legal Writing Index. This contains descriptions of articles, but not the articles themselves. You can tell that you're looking at this collection by looking at the Documents section of the item - it will include NZLWI (see screenshot). These articles are in journals that are licensed by other database providers, so you'll have to go to another database to find them. Use Journal Finder (see above) or the list of New Zealand law journals (see below) to find the right database.


Your second step after using Westlaw New Zealand should be to search Hein Online. You could limit your search to New Zealand journals (click Law Journal Library, then Browse By: Country). This would ensure that you were getting the most relevant articles. But it would also mean that you'd miss some articles published on New Zealand subjects, but in overseas journals. You would also miss Australasian journals, which are listed under Australia on Hein. So try a search on your topic, and add Zealand to the search.

Your third step could be Thomson Reuters Westlaw, use the same approach as in Hein Online, you could start with the secondary sources database on the front page for journals from the USA, or use the world journals database, in international materials.

At this point you've probably found most of what you're going to find. If you want to keep searching, try Lexis Advance and AGIS.

International journals

Start with Hein Online, as it has the biggest collection of journal articles.

Try to use more specific search terms (for example, rather than tort, use a more specific term like negligence or duty of care). This is because there are hundreds of thousands of articles in Hein Online, so you want to narrow down to the most relevant ones. You could also search the title of the article (by default, Hein searches the full-text of articles) - do this by selecting Article Title from the drop-down menu next to the search box. Combine searches by using AND: negligence AND "United States".

Follow these search techniques with more international journals databases