Guide: How to Write a winning Research Paper?
There is nothing more important in the practice of law than your ability to put together quality written work. Research Paper is one of the ways to express what you actually posses in terms of your skills, creativity and originality in thinking. Reading does not only suffice the purpose of you being in a law school you have to back your knowledge with writing some solid research papers.
What actually research paper is?
Research papers or Scholarly papers are scholarly/academic articles that contain the results of original research which is also known as Primary or an evaluation of research conducted by others know as Secondary. The primary requirement of a research paper is to trace information about a topic, take a stand on that topic, and provide support (or evidence) for that position in an organized report. The essence of a research paper lies in the objective of the paper. Therefore, a good research paper conveys the findings of the research in crisp and concise form without being muddled by the wordplay adopted by the author. The selection of the paper (if you are sending it for publication in reputed journals) is done on the basis of peer review which ensures the quality of the paper remains intact to merit publication.
Guideline to write a Research Paper:
- Selection of topic
- Research on the topic.
- Analyse and Plan
- Preparing the final Text
Selection of the Research Topic
Choosing your topic is the first and most important step in your research paper project. First of all ask yourself a question: Is there enough research available on this topic? Is the topic new, unique and timely? Is it pertinent to my career choice?
Pick something you are interested in: Whenever possible, choose a topic that you feel passionate and comfortable about. Writing about something you enjoy certainly shows in the final product, making it more likely that you will be successful writing a paper about something you enjoy. For example, if you are really interested in Constitutional Law, write something which involves the constitutional principle or constitutional issue. Stick to it and don’t digress.
Consult: if even you are a master in a subject you might not come out with a research paper. Therefore, consult. Consult with your colleagues, teachers etc. They can inspire you with new ideas.
Never hesitate to change topic: if you choose a topic, begin with research, and realize that it isn’t the right topic for you for some reason, don’t worry! Change the topic and restart the research.
Research on the Topic
Begin your research: With a topic selected, the next step is to begin research. Research can be done form various resources including web pages (Commission Sites, government web portals), journal articles (Hein Online, Manupatra, Economic & Political Weekly, SCC Online, Kluwer Arbitration), books, encyclopedia, interviews, newsletters, blog posts (Such as Corporate Law Blog, SpicyIP) etc. Give time, Sit down with an issue or research topic. Try to use a minimum of five sources to vary your information; never rely on only 1-2 sources.
Research not just Google: Remember, just don’t go about Googling the research topic, you may end up finding nothing. Books should be the primary areas of research. Read as much as you can. It will not only give you a better insight but also help you connect things better and understand if there are loopholes in your research.
Visit Library and use database: As Stated in the paragraph above, there is some specific Online Search Engine for specific subjects for example:
SCC Online, VakilSearch: if you are searching for Case law
Kluwer Arbitration: If you are researching on Arbitration
Manupatra: it provides judgments across all subjects of law of Supreme Court, all Indian High Courts, Orders of the Tribunals, bills, central and state Acts, notification and circulars, ordinances, committee reports and more.
Corporate Law Advisor: It contains access to search, browse, view & print judgments contained in all journals published by All India Reporter Private Limited for the years 2007 – 2013.
Advocate Khoj: It is a free legal information web portal which provides for individuals to find lawyers for their legal needs and for lawyers to get leads matching their legal specialty. It includes over 6000 legal forms including legal tips, areas of law, legal forms, agreements, Supreme Court judgments, bare acts, rules and a glossary.
Economic & political weekly: Economic & Political Weekly (EPW) publishes analysis of contemporary affairs side by side with academic papers in the social sciences.
Jstor: JSTOR is a digital library currently including more than 2,000 academic journals of both multidisciplinary and discipline-specific collections, dating back to the first volume ever published, along with thousands of monographs and other materials relevant for education. Because of JSTOR’s archival mission, there is a gap, typically from 1 to 5 years, between the most recently published journal issue and the back issues available in JSTOR.
Lexis Nexis: Apart from this, if you are wondering whether you can get books online? Yes, you can use lexi nexis online database which contains full text judgments and Acts of Supreme Court of India, All High Courts, All Tribunals & Central Acts and commentaries in corporate, commercial, banking & finance, intellectual property, ADR, civil and criminal law. It also contains US legal & all commonwealth cases.
Analyse and Plan
Certain types of writing call for a different approach. If you are writing exposition, you often need to describe a process. If that process is fairly complicated, simply prepare a flowchart for your own convenience so that you do not miss anything important. Also, a simple flowchart represents the stages in a process in sequence.
Annotate your research: Once you’ve gathered all your research, print it out (if it is an online source) and gather post-its or anything you need to mark notes in the books/magazines you are using. This step is very important: read through your research, take notes on what you think is important, and highlight key facts and phrases. Write directly on copies you’ve made, or use slips of paper tucked into pages to mark places of importance. Use highlighters to mark important point and use sticky notes to mark important pages, yes they do make difference!!
Identify the goal of the paper: there are two types of research paper: an argumentative research paper or an analytic research paper.
- An argumentative research paper takes a position on a contentious issue and argues for one point of view. The issue should be debatable with a logical counter argument.
For example: whether the new criminal law amendment bill is sufficient to protect the crime against women?
- An analytic research paper offers a fresh look at an important issue. The subject may not be controversial, but you must attempt to persuade your audience that your ideas have merit.
For example: analytical study on the New companies Act, 2013.
Determine your audience: the most important which the author tends to skip is to determine to whom they are writing for? Who would be reading this paper, should it be published? Although you want to write for your professor or other superior, it is important that the tone and focus of your paper reflect the audience who will be reading it. If you’re writing for academic peers, then the information you include should reflect the information you already know; you don’t need to explain basic ideas or theories. On the other hand, if you are writing for an audience who doesn’t know much about your subject, it will be important to include explanations and examples of more fundamental ideas and theories related to your research.
Finalize your outline: With the aforementioned tips taken into consideration, organize your entire outline. Justify main points to the left, and indent subsections and notes from your research below each. The outline should be an overview of your entire paper in bullet points. Make sure to include in-text citations at the end of each point, so that you don’t have to constantly refer back to your research when writing your final paper.
Consider formatting guidelines: Depending on your paper rubric, class guidelines, or formatting guidelines, you may have to organize your paper in a specific way. For example, when writing in APA format you must organize your paper by headings including the introduction, methods, results, and discussion. These guidelines will alter the way you craft your outline and final paper. For this, go through the submission guideline given in the rules in the brochure of any journal for which you are trying to write. It is important to look the font size, line spacing, Citation method.
Citations: Acknowledging the authors and scholars. (What are citations and how to prevent plagiarism?)
When you are copying or paraphrasing a particular sentence or paragraph from another source, you are required mandatorily (and this is serious stuff) to cite the proper authorities from which you have gathered the information. The Citation is added by using the keyboard short cut: Alt+Ctrl+F.
For example: if you have copied a line from D.D. Basu (Book on Constitutional law), all you need to do is, at the end of the line/sentence, enter a footnote and in it enter the book’s name with the author, year of publishing, book edition and the page number. Citation mark for Example,  is either marked at the end of the line or in some case on the word where the word forms the essence of the research paper, for example if writing on fundamental rights so the word ‘basic structure’ may be cited as: fundamental rights forms the basic structure of our constitution. Here, the word ‘basic structure is cited. Also, if you have taken this whole line form a book you can cite like this, fundamental rights forms the basic structure. Therefore, the citation is marked at the end of the line.
The hierarchy or order of the arrangement is guided by many citation formats, which are generally stated in the research paper invitation itself. For example, if it is mentioned that follow ‘Bluebook edition number 19’, then you need to refer to this particular citation format and follow how this format tells you to cite books, cases and other authorities. (Refer the module on Bluebook Citation)
When you do this without any kind of manipulation, there are no chances of your paper being rejected for plagiarism. Plagiarism is the practice of presenting someone else’s work or ideas as one’s own. Thus, if you plagiarize, you may end up in some serious trouble as it is ethically wrong and is considered so by every institution/body. Mind it!!
Preparing the Final draft
- Try to set aside your draft for a day or two before revising. This makes it easier to view your work objectively and see any gaps or problems.
- Revising involves rethinking your ideas, refining your arguments, reorganizing paragraphs, and rewording sentences. You may need to develop your ideas in more detail, give more evidence to support your claims, or delete material that is unnecessary.
- Read your paper out loud. This sometimes makes it easier to identify writing that is awkward or unclear.
- Have somebody else read the paper and tell you if there’s anything that’s unclear or confusing.
Some important thing which is to be avoided:
- Materials and methods are not a set of instructions.
- Omit all explanatory information and background – save it for the discussion.
- Omit information that is irrelevant to a third party, such as what color ice bucket you used, or which individual logged in the data
The content of a full research paper:
The format (not exhaustive) for the above is as given below:
- Table of Contents
- Index of Authorities (Would include cases that you have referred to).You may also include a list of Abbreviations if you have used any after this, though it is not mandatory to do so.
- Literature Survey/Resources Used
- Research Questions/Hypothesis
- Chapters respectively
- Conclusion: Will mainly include what opinion or judgement you, as a researcher, have formed about the topic after the research.
Kindly Note: Introduction, Conclusion and Bibliography are NOT parts of Chapterization!
Sample: We/I take this opportunity to express our profound gratitude and deep regards to our (Professor) for her/his exemplary guidance, monitoring and constant encouragement throughout the completion of this project topic. The blessing, help and guidance given by him/her time to time shall carry me a long way in the journey of life on which we are about to embark. Also, the guideline provided by him/her to stick to the deadline was also encouraging.
We/I have taken efforts in this project. However, it would not have been possible without the kind support and help of many individuals and organizations. We/I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all of them.
Our/My thanks and appreciations also go to my colleague in developing the project and people who have willingly helped me out with their abilities.
We/I are/am obliged to students of (College) for the valuable information provided by them in their respective fields. Lastly, we/I thank almighty, our/my parents, brother, sisters and friends for their constant encouragement without which this assignment would not be possible.
This too, is an integral part of a journal or paper being published wherein you, as an author, declare that your work is original and would not attract plagiarism or copyright issues.
Sample: We hereby declare that we (Name of the author(s)) are the authors of this research paper. The text reported in the project is the outcome of our own efforts and no part of this project assignment has been copied in any unauthorized manner and no part of it has been incorporated without due acknowledgement to their rightful sources and source persons. We authorize (University Name) to lend this research paper to other institutions or individuals for the purpose of scholarly research.
Table of Contents
The Table of contents can be created by:
- First Marking all the ‘Heading’ in the word file.
- Then click on to “Reference” Button in the Menu Bar.
- Go to ‘Table of Contents’
- Click on “Insert Table of Contents’
- Set the Font and Style According to your need using “Modify” Button.
- Click ‘OK’
Index of Authorities
Statement of Problem/Aim/Scope of the Research Paper: This includes presenting a skeleton of your subject matter. In simpler terms, under this sub-heading, you have to state what your “research problem” is. Say, you are working on an environmental issue:
Sample: “This research paper will highlight the issue of sustainable development in India in comparison to issues of ecology in the United States of America and how current global development needs to be checked to sustain along with ecology. Also, this research paper also aims to cover case laws decided by the Indian Supreme Court vis-à-vis decisions of committees on sustainable development.”
This seeks to restrict the scope of your research topic – the things that you do not want to include in your paper, like any other related issue or areas which may widen the scope of your topic. So here is where you restrict the scope of your topic to what you as a researcher would want. A sample of a limitation clause would look like this:
Sample: “During the course of validating and analyzing resources that the researcher has relied upon, it has been strongly felt that the ambit of this area of law is underdeveloped, especially in India. And therefore, the researcher has found in the course of looking for information that the information is unorganized and scattered. The researcher will be working on the available information through the resources previously categorized to emphasize on the relevant issues pertaining to the topic.”
Literature Survey/Resources Used
Adhering to the Research Methodology format shall include:
Literature Survey/Resources Used: The former (Literary Survey) is mostly used at the post-graduate level wherein you are required to give detailed information about the resources you have relied upon to support your research and compare between them. The latter gives a simplistic detail of the primary resources you have relied on – for instance, The Environment Protection Act or the Brundtland Report etc.
There are essentially three kinds of resources – Primary (Statutes, Case Laws, Original Works or Books),Secondary (Articles – Both online and offline, Journals, Commentaries, Dictionaries, Compendiums and Encyclopedias) and Tertiary (Not used as much, but those online resources which make reference to the primary and secondary sources) resources.
There lies a basic difference between “research questions” and formulating a “hypothesis” to a research paper. Research questions are the questions which you would put forth, as a researcher, to explore your topic. For example:
- Is Indian Environment Protection Act, 1986 adequate enough to cover all aspects of ecological issues?Or
- Are United State laws on environment more comprehensive in penalizing offenders than Indian laws?
A Hypothesis on the other hand, is a premise or presupposition, on the basis of which one furthers one’s research. It expresses the expectation of a researcher and is the basis on which one starts one’s research paper and also represents how one expects to end it. Remember, do not get lost in the technical heaviness of the word. Look at it from the perspective of a researcher and you will understand that this is an idea which you have in mind when you start – it might get validated or negated in the course of your research. It looks something like this:
“The Indian environmental laws are inadequate in protecting the ecology in the globalizing world”
Please notice that there is already a concrete idea as to what the researcher wants to look at here – that Indian environmental laws are inadequate
Chapters should be reflection of what your research questions are asking and must divide your research into logical flow. The number of chapters should not be less than three and should be arranged in an answering manner. Your first chapter could explore what your topic is followed by the second which addresses your concerns about the area and third would be a comparative analysis of your topic.
The full and final paper is often preceded by an abstract submission that acts as a summary of what you are going to write/research on the topic. This is in a way act as a filter for the peer reviewer. Therefore, in the abstract (normally in 200-300 words) you have to give the pin point summary of the research topic and the objective. After selection of commendable papers, a peer review panel might opt for an online publication or release a periodic journal. More can be found in the ‘Research Papers’ section.
Give a brief Introduction of the Topic. This may also include some background information of the topic. You may also include important case law to describe a situation if you are not getting substantive material. For Example: if you are writing on sexual Harassment, you can write about Vishakha v. State of Rajasthan Case.
Proceed with your ideas and avoid repeating the phrases.
Paragraphing: use paragraphs as a planning tool. As you write, form your thought into paragraphs. Begin each paragraph with one or two sentences that introduces the topic. The beginning of the paragraph must always have some kind of a ‘hook’ with the last paragraph.
Lastly, conclude the research paper taking your stand. If have already supported your arguments with the authorities, this is a kind of a prayer, so conclude in affirmative or negative tone as the case may be.
Kindly Note: Please proof read the paper atleast 4 time before sending the Research Paper.
Check: Grammar, style, font, spellings, punctuations etc.
Here are some Websites where you can get updates/opportunity of call for Papers:
 (For example purpose)
 Keshavnanda Bharti v. State of kerala, AIR 1973 SC 1461.
 DD Basu, The Constitution of India, Vol 1, pg. 1111, Lexis Nexis. (According to citation format as applicable or desired)
Readers can take Legal Desire Online Legal Drafting and Research Certification Workshop to learn advanced legal drafting & research methodology, take a look and Register Day. Click here to Know More.
The Pensters offer impeccable custom research paper writing service.
Guide to Draft Research Paper by:-
Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Legal Desire (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Latest posts by Legal Desire (see all)
- IASLA Space Law Moot Court Competition (Asia Pacific Rounds 2018); Register here - January 19, 2018
- GLC MUN: Government Law College Model United Nations Conference 2018 - January 19, 2018
- The Asymmetric Shock: Model World Economic Forum at Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad - January 19, 2018