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Environmental law: Secondary sources

SECONDARY SOURCES > Introduction

In law, secondary sources (called doctrine or sources secondaires, in French) includes monographs (books), dictionaries, encyclopedias and legal journals. Those works are written by legal experts (lawyers, researchers and professors).

Secondary sources are an excellent starting point for a research, particularly when it is a field you are less familiar with. Those sources allows  to understand the main issues related to a field of law. Not only does secondary sources helps to understand the legal principles, but it allows to find the key decisions in a specific field of the law as well.

  1. Encyclopedia and dictionaries are interesting to understands the basics of a fields and to get the vocabulary associated to it;
  2. Monographs goes further than the encyclopedia and dictionaries into the explanations;
  3. Periodical articles are generally written for a public who already have a good understanding of the basics of a specific field. The authors can write on many subjects such as:
    • a recent decision and the impacts it might have on the law;
    • to share some toughs about a new legislation or a bill;
    • some questioning whether it is philosophical, theorical or practical about any legal theme.

Not only are they a great source to learn the basics of a legal field, but encyclopedias, dictionaries and monographs are also excellent source of inspiration to find keywords to be used in your search strategy for the databases.