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Exercise

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?

Scholarship:
"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
- articles
- conference papers
- key cases
- relevant statutes/statutory instruments
- treaties/conventions
- 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)

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