Research and Writing Strategy for a Seminar Paper Theories of Justice Seminar April 2010 Mary Whisner It’s very simple: Research Write Not so simple, really: • Brainstorm • Early research Topic Refined Topic • Systematic research • Notetaking • Writing • Discovering holes Drafting • Research • Writing Filling in holes Editing • Answer Q? • Flow? • Clean up citations • Tweak Polishing Strategy: Typical Legal Problem • Preliminary analysis (issue, parties, jurisdiction, keywords, secondary sources) • Statutes (plus regs, ordinances) • Mandatory precedent • Persuasive precedent • Refine, update, doublecheck How Might a Theory Paper Differ? • • • • • • Questions Purpose Sources Thoroughness Currentness Style State a Thesis (Even Tentatively) E.g., Recent Supreme Court opinions on affirmative action in education and busing in public schools illustrate competing visions of fairness. Applying theories of Rawls and Nozick can help us understand the tension. Form a Plan Write questions you hope to answer with research: • What are recent S.Ct. cases re affirmative action in education? • What rationales do justices apply? • How do l. rev. articles analyze fairness issues? • How about philosophy or public policy articles? Plan How You’ll Look • Already have citations for S. Ct. cases; just need to retrieve and read. • Law review articles: – KeyCite or Shepardize cases; restrict to law review articles with key terms – LegalTrac – Full-text searches, LN & WL; SSRN? • Philosopher’s Index Lots to Read Find 1 article. Find many articles. Read it. Scan lists. Find next article. Decide which to read. Manage Notes • Zotero (Firefox add-on) – keep track of documents from Web • RefWorks and EndNote – export data from indexes or library catalogs – enter your own citations – write notes – format citations • UW Libraries Organize Your Thoughts Thesis Legal issue Test with examples Apply theory to issue Conclude Organize Your Thoughts Majority Case Dissent Question / Theory Case Comments Organize Your Thoughts Bkgd Theory 2 applied to problem Unsatisfactory because ... Facts: Why a problem? Unsatisfactory because ... Possible 3rd approach? Standard legal analysis Theory 1 applied to problem Conclusion Do You Have What You Need? • In your notes and files, do you have the material you need? • If not, form questions and go research. • If not sure, try writing a section and reevaluate. Have You Addressed Your Thesis? • If so, great. • If not, can you add a section to fill in analysis? • If not, can you restate problem to be what you did address? Help with Mechanics • Bluebook 101 • Word Tips to Make Your Life Easier • Legal & General Writing Resources Gallagher Law Library University of Washington School of Law Box 353025 Seattle WA 98195-3025 http://lib.law.washington.edu • We are happy to have our guides used by other libraries, librarians, and legal researchers. • Before copying or adapting one of our guides, please contact Cheryl Nyberg (cnyberg at uw.edu) to obtain permission. Then give appropriate attribution, such as: "Adapted from a guide by Mary Whisner at the Gallagher Law Library website."