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Legal Information Skills

This guide is aimed at students who are new to finding legal information. It will take you through searching the Library resources, how to find your course readings, and also how to search key databases.


For many students the type of referencing required at university can be challenging. Don’t worry as there is lots of help and advice available to help you navigate this!

This page features resources which will provide an introduction to referencing for law, and details of two popular referencing styles accepted by the School of Law at Edinburgh, OSCOLA and the Edinburgh Law Review Style. 

At the end of this page there are some examples to work through where you can see if you can spot common mistakes. 

Referencing video recording

The Academic Support Librarians who support the School of Law at the University of  Edinburgh have sessions on referencing and using OSCOLA on the Law Librarian Resources Channel, or by viewing the video above.

If you click through to the video on Media Hopper you will find slides for the session uploaded under the 'attachments' tab. We run this session once each semester, so for future dates please check the MyEd events booking system, or contact us directly by email

Avoiding plagiarism

Plagiarism is taken seriously within the university but helpful guidance and support is available if you're worried about this. 

  • University of Edinburgh Academic Misconduct page provides information relating to what constitutes academic misconduct and the procedures for dealing with it. 
  • Good Academic Practice Course- This course is available to all Law students through Learn and outlines what is expected in relation to the rules within the University, as well the wider topic of good academic practice. 
  • The Academic Support Librarian team can also offer assistance. Contact us by email:

Referencing - Tutorials

The University of Edinburgh subscribes to Cite Them Right Online- a resource that has lots of useful advice on referencing and plagiarism. It has examples of reference types in various styles.  

The Oxford University Standards for the Citation of Legal Authorities (4th ed) is a specific style for legal citations. 

Remember to use the most authoritative reference available for cases. 

Cardiff University has created a course about citing the law- specifically using OSCOLA.

 It is a useful introduction to the concept of legal referencing and how to use the OSCOLA style to do  so.

 Citing the Law: Referencing Using OSCOLA.


Edinburgh Law Review style

Cover of Edinburgh Student Law Review journal, showing part of the dome of Old College at the University of Edinburgh's Law School against a dark background. The dome is made of stone and lit from below casting shadows across its features, giving a dramatic effect.OSCOLA is one of the accepted referencing styles at the University of Edinburgh, but you may prefer to use the Edinburgh Law Review Style instead. For more information on this style, please see the guide compiled by the Edinburgh Student Law Review


PRACTICE TASKS: ReferencingOpen book on a table, viewed from the perspective of the bottom of the spine. Image from Pixabay.

Now that you're familiar with OSCOLA, try to identify the problems with the references below.

1. What is missing from this article reference?

Rodger, A. (1996) Thinking About Scots Law. [Online] 1 (1), 3–24.


2. What is missing from this book reference?

Walker, D. M.  The Scottish legal system : an introduction to the study of Scots law. Eighth edition, revised. Edinburgh: W. Green/Sweet & Maxwell.


3. What is missing from this case reference?

Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] 562


4. What pages does this reference refer to?

Farran, S. (2020) Scots law: a system in search of a family? Northern Ireland legal quarterly. [Online] 61 (4)

HINT: Look at a typical example of OSCOLA referencing for a book, journal etc using Cite Them Right. What's been removed? 

MORE HINTS: Look up the book or article on a database or DiscoverEd. Which piece of information is missing?

The answers are written below in white text. Highlight them with your mouse to reveal the correct answers.
If you require these answers in a different format for accessibility reasons, please contact us on

  1. Rodger, A. (1996) Thinking About Scots Law. The Edinburgh law review. [Online] 1 (1), 3–24.  
    MISSING: Journal title
  2. Walker, D. M. (2001) The Scottish legal system : an introduction to the study of Scots law. Eighth edition, revised. Edinburgh: W. Green/Sweet & Maxwell.
    MISSING: Year of publication
  3. Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562
    MISSING: Name of court (AC)
  4. Farran, S. (2020) Scots law: a system in search of a family? Northern Ireland legal quarterly. [Online] 61 (4), 311–327.
    MISSING: Actual page numbers. If you look up this article, you will find it in Vol 61, issue 4, pages 311-327. You need all this information for the correct reference! 

Next Steps

Your next steps are to click through to the next section of the guide to read about where to find further help and training if you need it. Next page arrow

  1. Where to find and access resources
  2. Searching
  3. Referencing
  4. Further help and training
  5. Test Yourself!