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Book Review: Legal Referencing



Title: Legal Referencing

Author: Stuhmcke, A.

Published by: Butterworths, Australia (1998)

ISBN: 0 409 31342 4

pp: 160


1. Introduction to Legal Referencing and this Guide

2. The Fundamentals of Legal Referencing and Writing

3. Case Law

4. Statutes and Other Kinds of Legislation

5. Textbooks, Looseleaf Services, Legal Encyclopedias, Legal Dictionaries

6. Journals or Periodicals

7. Newspapers, Magazines, Conference Papers, Unpublished Materials, Bible, Lectures

8. Parliamentary Debates, Reports and Bills

9. How to Cite Legal Materials Located Electronically

10. United Kingdom, Canada and United States

11. How to Repeat a Citation

12. Referencing in Exams

13. Where to Find Help

Appendix I Recommended Abbreviations for Use in Citation

Appendix II Citation of Law Reports

Appendix III Quick Reference Guide


This small volume gets very high praise for setting out, in a clear interesting and easy to understand manner, the most important guidelines for legal referencing.

The book does not launch straight into legal referencing 'rules'. Rather, it begins by stressing the value of correct referencing to students who are new to legal writing and tend to view referencing as a piece of pedantry invented by their lecturers simply to make life difficult.

The most impressive part of this book is the section on plagiarism. Clear examples of plagiarism are provided, from the blatant stealing of words, to more subtle forms of plagiarism such as paraphrasing and stealing thoughts. The examples are then developed to show how one could reference them properly, and even turn them into 'excellent legal writing' which shows 'evidence of your own thought, words and craft' (at p 25). As plagiarism is an area that many students seem to have difficulty with, it is good to find a book that explains it simply yet in detail. An equally useful section on general guidelines and tips as to legal writing follows the discussion of plagiarism.

The referencing of almost every type of source material imaginable, including electronic sources such as email and web site, is discussed. This is sorted into different chapters, so that the reader can quickly find the particular information that she is looking for.

Within each chapter explanations and comments about the nature of the material to be referenced are provided. These are good as they develop students' knowledge about the creation of sources and the weight of authority that different sources provide. Plenty of examples are provided, to illustrate every point that is made. The examples are put in grey boxes throughout the text, making it very easy to see them.

The appendices, which provide tables of abbreviations used in citation and a quick referencing guide, are another excellent feature.

The book is written specifically for Australia and focuses on referencing Australian material. It does, however, provide sources for people wishing to reference primary materials from England, the US or Canada. From the point of view of USP students, the main thing lacking is an indication of how to cite statutes correctly when they are organised by chapter rather than by year, as is common in Pacific jurisdictions. This can hardly be considered to be a flaw, though, and does not prevent the book from providing an excellent guide to legal referencing both for new students and for people wanting to 'just check a few rules'.

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