1 Write down your topic.
2 Identify your search terms, the keywords and phrases.
3 Consider any alternative keywords or phrases that could be used. These could be related terms or plural terms, spelling variations, broader terms to expand your results or narrow terms to reduce your results.
4 Develop your search strategy by writing each word in a concept map or box, combine the words with Boolean Operators such as AND & OR and truncate or wildcard your terms. Truncation varies in each database but it is usually identified by an asterisk.
5 Select appropriate resources to search. This will require searching one or more databases depending on the subject coverage of the particular database chosen.
Electronic legal research tools are available via the World Wide web, such as AustLII, and specialised subscription-based databases, such as Lawlex, Westlaw, LexisNexis AU, CCH Online and Lawbook Co Online. It must be remembered that the time-saving benefits of these tools are immense to the legal researcher, but the authoritative print versions of primary law sources are still considered the authorised law.
The benefits of the legal electronic research services are vast indeed, but they still must be viewed as supplementary to the primary law print resources. Unfortunately there is a view held by many students oflaw and legal research that if the law does not exist electronically, then it does not exist at alL Just because it is in electronic form does not necessarily mean that it is the most up-to-date law. This really is a dangerous assumption to make.