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SMU Libraries

Legal Internship Research Toolkit: Secondary sources


Secondary resources interpret and provide commentary on primary resources like cases and legislation. They include books, journals and commentaries.

Secondary sources are great starting points for your research as they provide context and summarize the state of law on a given issue. They also identify the key words for a legal issue, and highlight the important cases and legislation, as well as other secondary sources for your further research.

Secondary sources can be found in library collections and select databases. 


You can check if your law firm has a library collection you can use.

Alternatively, check if your law firm has a corporate membership to any library (eg. SMU Libraries). If so, you will be able to borrow print titles from that library on the firm's behalf. Bear in mind that your firm will have limited access to the electronic resources so do check the policy. 

You are not allowed to use your student access on the firm's behalf. To see what print resources the library has, check out their catalogue or website.

You can also use books from the National Library or the Supreme Court Library.

Google Book Search

Google Book Search

Free databases from NLB

NLB provides access to some free electronic resources and databases which you can access here. Do note that you will have to log in to your NLB account to access these resources.

Several useful ones include:

  • EBSCOhost academic search complete - provides access to journals, periodicals, reports, books and more. 
  • JSTOR - Provides access to scholarly journals and books.
  • Factiva - Provides access to websites, trade magazines, and international/regional papers around the world.
  • ProQuest Central - Covers 30 databases covering many subject areas and contains many periodicals and newspapers.
  • ProQuest Criminal Justice - Combines indexing of titles supporting research on criminology with full text coverage of over 200 publications.


Some commentary can be found on select databases. For example, Woon's Corporations Law and Halsbury's Laws can be found on Lexis Advance.

Locating Journal Articles

Journal articles can be found in several databases and Google Scholar. Several useful databases are as follows:

  • LawNet - Good for Singapore and Malaysian articles.
  • Lexis Advance - Good for international articles (eg. UK, Australia)
  • Westlaw - Good for international articles (eg. UK, US)
    HeinOnline - Good for international articles (eg. UK, US)
  • Kluwer databases - Good for articles on specific topics. For example, Kluwer Arbitration has many useful resources on dispute resolution. 
  • Manupatra - Good for Indian articles.

As you are not allowed to use SMU Libraries' databases for your internships, do check if your law firm provides access to them!

Tip: If you're not sure what journal your article is in, use Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations to identify the full journal title from the abbreviation. You can do a quick Google search on the journal to get some helpful tips on which databases might have it!

Google Scholar

Google Scholar Search
The use of electronic resources must comply with the Appropriate Use of Electronic Resources Policy and Singapore Management University Acceptable Use Policy