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I. What is research?

Research comes from an old French word cerchier which means to seek or search while the
prefix re means again. Ordinarily research is defined as a systematic, empirical, controlled
critical investigation of a hypothetical proposition about presumed relations among natural
phenomena (Kerlinger).

It is systematic because it utilizes a system or an orderly method. It is empirical because it is


provable and measurable by experience or experiment. Finally, it is controlled because there are
coordinated arrangement of variables.

What is legal research?


Legal research is generally a process of finding answer to a legal question or checking for legal
precedent that can be cited in a brief or trial.1 Legal research is an essential lawyering skill. The
ability to conduct legal research is essential for lawyers, regardless of area or type of practice.
The most basic step in legal research is to find the leading case governing the issues in question.2

Parts of Research

A. Title
The title summarizes the main idea or ideas of the study. A good title contains the fewest
possible words needed to adequately describe the content and/or purpose of the research paper.3

In writing the title, one must keep in the following:


1. It must be simple, brief and attractive
2. Use of appropriate descriptive words
3. Avoid jargons and abbreviations

B. Abstract
An abstract summarizes, usually in one paragraph of 300 words or less, the major aspects of the
entire paper in a prescribed sequence that includes: 1) the overall purpose of the study and the
research problem(s) being investigated; 2) the basic design of the study; 3) major findings or
trends found as a result of your analysis; and, 4) a brief summary of your interpretations and
conclusions.

C. Body of the Paper


i. Introduction
The introduction leads the reader from a general subject area to a particular field of
research. It establishes the context and significance of the research being conducted
by summarizing current understanding and background information about the topic,
stating the purpose of the work in the form of the research problem supported by a
hypothesis or a set of questions, briefly explaining the methodological approach used

1
http://hirealawyer.findlaw.com/choosing-the-right-lawyer/legal-research.html

2
http://legalresearch.org/essentials/importance-of-legal-research/

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http://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/title

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to examine the research problem, highlighting the potential outcomes the study can
reveal, and outlining the remaining structure of the paper.

There are three overarching goals of a good introduction: 1) ensure that the writer
summarizes prior studies about the topic in a manner that lays a foundation for
understanding the research problem; 2) explain how the study specifically addresses
gaps in the literature, insufficient consideration of the topic, or other deficiency in the
literature; and, 3) note the broader theoretical, empirical, and/or policy contributions
and implications of the research.

ii. Statement of the Problem


A research problem is a definite or clear expression [statement] about an area of
concern, a condition to be improved upon, a difficulty to be eliminated, or a troubling
question that exists in scholarly literature, in theory, or within existing practice that
points to a need for meaningful understanding and deliberate investigation. A
research problem does not state how to do something, offer a vague or broad
proposition, or present a value question.

iii. Scope and Limitation


The limitations of the study are those characteristics of design or methodology that
impacted or influenced the interpretation of the findings from your research. They are
the constraints on generalizability, applications to practice, and/or utility of findings
that are the result of the ways in which you initially chose to design the study and/or
the method used to establish internal and external validity.

Always acknowledge a study's limitations. It is far better that the researcher


identifies and acknowledges the studys limitations than to have them pointed out by
his professor and be graded down because it appears to have been ignored.

Keep in mind that acknowledgement of a study's limitations is an opportunity to


make suggestions for further research. If the researcher does connect his study's
limitations to suggestions for further research, it is better that he be sure to explain the
ways in which these unanswered questions may become more focused because of his
study.

Acknowledgement of a study's limitations also provides the researcher with an


opportunity to demonstrate that he has thought critically about the research problem,
understood the relevant literature published about it, and correctly assessed the
methods chosen for studying the problem. A key objective of the research process is
not only discovering new knowledge but to also confront assumptions and explore
what we don't know.

Claiming limitations is a subjective process because one must evaluate the


impact of those limitations. Bear in mind to not just list key weaknesses and the
magnitude of a study's limitations. To do so diminishes the validity of ones research
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because it leaves the reader wondering whether, or in what ways, limitation(s) in
ones study may have impacted the results and conclusions. Limitations require a
critical, overall appraisal and interpretation of their impact. The researcher should
answer the question: do these problems with errors, methods, validity, etc. eventually
matter and, if so, to what extent?

iv. Significance of the Study

A discussion of the significance of a study typically includes an explanation of the


work's significance, its potential benefits and its overall impact. The significance of a
study, often called the "rationale," attempts to explain to an audience why a
researcher's work is worth performing.

v. Literature Review
A literature review surveys books, scholarly articles, and any other sources relevant to
a particular issue, area of research, or theory, and by so doing, provides a description,
summary, and critical evaluation of these works in relation to the research problem
being investigated. Literature reviews are designed to provide an overview of sources
the researcher has explored while researching a particular topic and to demonstrate to
his readers how his research fits within a larger field of study.

A literature review may consist of simply a summary of key sources, but in the
social sciences, a literature review usually has an organizational pattern and
combines both summary and synthesis, often within specific conceptual
categories. A summary is a recap of the important information of the source, but a
synthesis is a re-organization, or a reshuffling, of that information in a way that
informs how one is planning to investigate a research problem.

vi. Methodology
The methods section describes the rationale for the application of specific procedures
or techniques used to identify, select, and analyze information applied to
understanding the research problem, thereby, allowing the reader to critically evaluate
a studys overall validity and reliability. The methodology section of a research paper
answers two main questions: How was the data collected or generated? And, how was
it analyzed? The writing should be direct and precise and always written in the past
tense.

The researcher must explain how he obtained and analyzed his results for the
following reasons:

Readers need to know how the data was obtained because the method chosen
affects the findings and, by extension, how the researcher likely interpreted
them.

Methodology is crucial for any branch of scholarship because an unreliable


method produces unreliable results and, as a consequence, undermines the value
of the writers interpretations of the findings.

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In most cases, there are a variety of different methods one can choose to
investigate a research problem. The methodology section of a paper should
clearly articulate the reasons why one chose a particular procedure or technique.

The reader wants to know that the data was collected or generated in a way that
is consistent with accepted practice in the field of study. For example, if one is
using a multiple choice questionnaire, readers need to know that it offered your
respondents a reasonable range of answers to choose from.

The method must be appropriate to fulfilling the overall aims of the study. For
example, the researcher needs to ensure that he has a large enough sample size
to be able to generalize and make recommendations based upon the findings.

The methodology should discuss the problems that were anticipated and the steps
taken to prevent them from occurring. For any problems that do arise, one must
describe the ways in which they were minimized or why these problems do not
impact in any meaningful way the researchers interpretation of the findings.

vii. Findings
The results section is where the researcher reports the findings of his study based
upon the methodology [or methodologies] he applied to gather information. The
results section should state the findings of the research arranged in a logical sequence
without bias or interpretation. A section describing results [a.k.a., "findings"] is
particularly necessary if ones paper includes data generated from his own research.

When formulating the results section, it's important to remember that the
results of a study do not prove anything. Findings can only confirm or reject the
hypothesis underpinning your study. However, the act of articulating the results helps
you to understand the problem from within, to break it into pieces, and to view the
research problem from various perspectives.
The page length of this section is set by the amount and types of data to be
reported. Be concise, using non-textual elements appropriately, such as figures and
tables, to present results more effectively. In deciding what data to describe in the
results section, the researcher must clearly distinguish information that would
normally be included in a research paper from any raw data or other content that
could be included as an appendix. In general, raw data that has not been summarized
should not be included in the main text of your paper unless requested to do so by the
professor.
Avoid providing data that is not critical to answering the research question. The
background information one has described in the introduction section should provide
the reader with any additional context or explanation needed to understand the results.
A good strategy is to always re-read the background section of the paper after
writing up the results to ensure that the reader has enough context to understand the
results [and, later, how the researcher interpreted the results in the discussion section
of his paper].

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viii. Discussion/ Analysis of Data
The purpose of the discussion is to interpret and describe the significance of the
researchers findings in light of what was already known about the research problem
being investigated, and to explain any new understanding or insights about the
problem after one has taken the findings into consideration. The discussion will
always connect to the introduction by way of the research questions or hypotheses
one posed and the literature he reviewed, but it does not simply repeat or rearrange
the introduction; the discussion should always explain how the study has moved the
reader's understanding of the research problem forward from where he left them at the
end of the introduction.
This section is often considered the most important part of your research paper
because this is where the researcher:

1. Most effectively demonstrates his ability as a researcher to think critically about


an issue, to develop creative solutions to problems based upon a logical
synthesis of the findings, and to formulate a deeper, more profound
understanding of the research problem under investigation.
2. Present the underlying meaning of his research, note possible implications in
other areas of study, and explore possible improvements that can be made in
order to further develop the concerns of your research.
3. Highlight the importance of his study and how it may be able to contribute to
and/or help fill existing gaps in the field. If appropriate, the discussion section is
also where one states how the findings from his study revealed new gaps in the
literature that had not been previously exposed or adequately described.
4. Engage the reader in thinking critically about issues based upon an evidence-
based interpretation of findings; it is not governed strictly by objective reporting
of information.

ix. Conclusion
The conclusion is intended to help the reader understand why ones research should
matter to them after they have finished reading the paper. A conclusion is not merely
a summary of the main topics covered or a re-statement of your research problem, but
a synthesis of key points and, if applicable, where you recommend new areas for
future research. For most essays, one well-developed paragraph is sufficient for a
conclusion, although in some cases, a two or three paragraph conclusion may be
required.

A well-written conclusion provides you with important opportunities to demonstrate


to the reader your understanding of the research problem. These include:

1. Presenting the last word on the issues you raised in your paper. Just as the
introduction gives a first impression to the reader, the conclusion offers a
chance to leave a lasting impression. Do this, for example, by highlighting key
points in the analysis or results or by noting important or unexpected
implications applied to practice.
2. Summarizing the researchers thoughts and conveying the larger
significance of his study. The conclusion is an opportunity to succinctly
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answer the "So What?" question by placing the study within the context of past
research about the topic you've investigated.
3. Identifying how a gap in the literature has been addressed. The conclusion
can be where you describe how a previously identified gap in the literature has
been filled by the research.
4. Demonstrating the importance of your ideas. The conclusion offers the
opportunity to elaborate on the impact and significance of the researchers
findings.
5. Introducing possible new or expanded ways of thinking about the research
problem. This does not refer to introducing new information [which should be
avoided], but to offer new insight and creative approaches for framing or
contextualizing the research problem based on the results of ones study.

D. Bibliography
A bibliography is a list of citations related to a particular topic or theme that include a brief
descriptive and/or evaluative summary. The annotated bibliography can be arranged
chronologically by date of publication or alphabetically by author, with citations to print and/or
digital materials, such as, books, newspaper articles, journal articles, dissertations, government
documents, pamphlets, web sites, etc., and multimedia sources like films and audio recordings.4

II. How to Quote in a Research Paper

Introducing a quotation
One of the jobs of a writer is to guide his reader through his text. It is important to not simply
drop quotations into the paper and leave it to the reader to make connections.

Integrating a quotation into your text usually involves two elements:

A signal that a quotation is coming--generally the author's name and/or a reference to the work
An assertion that indicates the relationship of the quotation to your text

Often both the signal and the assertion appear in a single introductory statement, as in the
example below. Notice how a transitional phrase also serves to connect the quotation
smoothly to the introductory statement.

Ross (1993), in her study of poor and working-class mothers in London from 1870-1918
[signal], makes it clear that economic status to a large extent determined the meaning of
motherhood [assertion]. Among this population [connection], "To mother was to work for
and organize household subsistence" (p. 9).

The signal can also come after the assertion, again with a connecting word or phrase:

Illness was rarely a routine matter in the nineteenth century [assertion]. As [connection]
Ross observes [signal], "Maternal thinking about children's health revolved around the
possibility of a child's maiming or death" (p. 166).

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Formatting Quotations

Short direct prose


Incorporate short direct prose quotations into the text of the paper and enclose them in
double quotation marks:

According to Jonathan Clarke, "Professional diplomats often say that trying to think
diplomatically about foreign policy is a waste of time." 1

Longer prose quotations


Begin longer quotations (for instance, in the APA system, 40 words or more) on a new line
and indent the entire quotation (i.e., put in block form), with no quotation marks at
beginning or end, as in the quoted passage from ourSuccessful vs. Unsucessful
Paraphrases page.

Rules about the minimum length of block quotations, how many spaces to indent, and
whether to single- or double-space extended quotations vary with different documentation
systems; check the guidelines for the system you're using.

Quotation of Up to 3 Lines of Poetry


Quotations of up to 3 lines of poetry should be integrated into your sentence. For example:

In Julius Caesar, Antony begins his famous speech with "Friends, Romans, Countrymen,
lend me your ears; / I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him" (III.ii.75-76).

Notice that a slash (/) with a space on either side is used to separate lines.

Quotation of More than 3 Lines of Poetry


More than 3 lines of poetry should be indented. As with any extended (indented)
quotation, do not use quotation marks unless there is a need to indicate a quotation within
a quotation.

Punctuating with Quotation Marks

Parenthetical citations
With short quotations, place citations outside of closing quotation marks, followed by
sentence punctuation (period, question mark, comma, semi-colon, colon):

Menand (2002) characterizes language as "a social weapon" (p. 115).

With block quotations, check the guidelines for the documentation system the writer is
using.

Commas and periods


Place inside closing quotation marks when no parenthetical citation follows:

Hertzberg (2002) notes that "treating the Constitution as imperfect is not new," but
because of Dahl's credentials, his "apostasy merits attention" (p. 85).

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Semicolons and colons
Place outside of closing quotation marks (or after a parenthetical citation).

Question marks and exclamation points


Place inside closing quotation marks if the quotation is a question/exclamation:

Menand (2001) acknowledges that H. W. Fowler's Modern English Usage is "a classic of
the language," but he asks, "Is it a dead classic?" (p. 114).

[Note that a period still follows the closing parenthesis.]

Place outside of closing quotation marks if the entire sentence containing the quotation is a
question or exclamation:

How many students actually read the guide to find out what is meant by "academic
misconduct"?

Quotation within a quotation


Use single quotation marks for the embedded quotation:

According to Hertzberg (2002), Dahl gives the U. S. Constitution "bad marks in


'democratic fairness' and 'encouraging consensus'" (p. 90).

[The phrases "democratic fairness" and "encouraging consensus" are already in quotation
marks in Dahl's sentence.]

Indicating Changes in Quotations

Quoting Only a Portion of the Whole


Use ellipsis points (. . .) to indicate an omission within a quotation--but not at the
beginning or end unless it's not obvious that you're quoting only a portion of the whole.

Adding Clarification, Comment, or Correction


Within quotations, use square brackets [ ] (not parentheses) to add your own clarification,
comment, or correction.

Use [sic] (meaning "so" or "thus") to indicate that a mistake is in the source you're quoting
and is not your own.5

III. Guidelines in the Use of Internet Sources

Here are the items recommended for including in a citation for information on the Web or
Internet:

Web page

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o name of author(s) -if known
o title of the work - in quotes, if known
o title of the Web page - in italics, if applicable
o date of last revision
o URL
o Date accessed

Example:
Ackermann, Ernest. "Writing Your Own Web Pages." Creating Web Pages. 23 Oct.
1996. http://people.umw.edu/~ernie/writeweb/writeweb.html
10 Feb. 1997.

File available by anonymous FTP

o name of author(s) -if known


o title of the work - in quotes, if known
o date of last revision
o URL
o Date accessed

Example:
American Civil Liberties Union. "Briefing paper Number 5, Drug Testing in the Work
Place." 19 Nov. 1992.
ftp://ftp.eff.org/pub/Privacy/Medical/aclu_drug_testing_workplace.faq
13 Feb. 1997.

Gopher resource

o name of author(s) -if known


o title of the work - in quotes, if known
o date of last revision
o URL
o Date accessed

Example:
Shultz, Michael T. "Significant Figures".
gopher://ericir.syr.edu:70/00/Lesson/Subject/Math/cecmath.42
15 Feb. 1997.

E-mail message to an individual

o name of author
o subject of the message - in quotes
o date the message was sent
o type of communication: personal, distribution list, professional
o author's e-mail address
o Date accessed

Example:
Mills, C. "Getting gigs in Nashville." 13 May 1996. Personal.
cc@digicool.com
13 Dec. 1996

E-mail message that's part of a discussion group

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o name of author
o subject of the message - in quotes
o date the message was sent
o author's e-mail address
o address of discussion group
o via URL of archive - if known
o Date accessed

Example:
Ackermann,E. "Re: Bookmark files with Netscape 2.0." 7 Mar. 1996
ernie@mwc.edu
nettrain@ubvm.cc.buffalo.edu
via http://listserv.acsu.buffalo.edu/cgi-bin/wa?S1=nettrain
14 Feb. 1997

Usenet article

o name of author
o subject of the message - in quotes
o name of the newsgroup
o date the message was sent
o author's e-mail address
o date of access

Example:
Ackermann, E. "Question about keeping Bay plant indoors." rec.gardens. 3 Dec. 1995
ernie@mwc.edu
13 Feb. 1997

Articles from electronic journals

o name of author(s) -if known


o title of the work - in quotes, if known
o title of the Journal, volume and issue - in italics, if applicable
o date of last revision
o URL
o Date accessed

Example:
Agre, P. "Designing genres for new media: Social, economic, and political contexts." The
Network Observer: 2.13. 21 Oct. 1996
http://communication.ucsd.edu/pagre/tno/november-1995.html#designing
14 Feb. 19976

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