Form yourselves into groups and consider the question: What is research?
Write a list of 5 characteristics of research.
What are the characteristics of research at postgraduate level?
"The analysis and interpretation of existing knowledge aimed at improving, through teaching or by other means of communication, the depth of human understanding."
Research at Postgraduate level
- Not just descriptive
- May describe but should also critically analyse and evaluate
- This could be a critique of case or academic opinion
- Must introduce some originality:
- Say what you think and why (based on caselaw and academic opinion)
- When reading cases and other sources etc you should read critically
- read to understand but also to detect issues and flaws and inconsistencies in arguments and reasoning
- Cannot write a dissertation which recounts:what the law is or which merely summarises existing work
- Your dissertation should develop the argument eg for reforming the law or be a critique of the writings of others or of the caselaw.
Choosing a Topic
- Is it interesting?
- Is it specific enough?
- Is it viable or feasible?
- Is it topical?
- How original is it?
- Are the resources needed available to you?
- Do we have the resources or expertise to supervise?
Choosing a topic ctd
- What to look for when choosing a title:
- A series of cases that cause problems
- Divergences in the caselaw
- A problem in society not addressed by law
- An area of law not operating properly
- An unresolved issue
- A topic worthy of comparative study
Literature Review (cont.) What should it contain? A list of the following:
- main academic authors
- text books
- practitioner books
- conference papers
- key cases
- relevant statutes/statutory instruments
- internet sites
Each reference should contain a short commentary indicating its likely significance to your research topic
Approaches to Legal Research
- Doctrinal or Black-letter research
- Historical research
- Socio-legal research
- Policy research
- Reform oriented research
- Comparative Research
- Theoretical of jurisprudential research Methods:
- Archival/doctrinal approach
- examining existing sources or data (statutes, cases, textbooks, treaties, internet, etc)
- Empirical approach
- collecting findings 'eys, official statistics, ires, interviews, etc)
Some Useful Pointers
- Plan your work carefully
- Formulate very clear boundaries
- Set milestones
- Stocktake regularly
- Monitor your plan and be flexible
- Get feedback (supervisor/peers)