Expectations and Structure.  In assembling your research and writing your paper, structural concerns become criti­cal. 

Expectations and Structure.  In assembling your research and writing your paper, structural concerns become criti­cal. .

Expectations and Structure.  In assembling your research and writing your paper, structural concerns become criti­cal.  An intelligible and logical structure is needed to convey information and arguments coherently and persuasively.  Any well-prepared research paper has three essential sections.
INTRODUCTION:  Frame a topic and a research question. What topic will your paper address?  Why is the topic worthy of investigation?  What questions, related to that issue, will the paper seek to answer?  What is the answer at which you arrive?  (The answer to this last question will be your thesis – the argument that will organize and drive your paper.)
Everything here will directly relate to your thesis.  Use the thesis to keep your paper focused and structured.
Review a relevant body of literature. (e.g., What has been written – both on and off the Court – about this topic?  What arguments have these various authors made?  What are the common analytical agreements and disagreements that surface in them?  Can you identify schools or patterns of thought in them?  On what as­sumptions do they rest and to what conclusions do they come?)
Analyze that body of literature in light of the research question you are asking. (e.g., What does that literature say about your research question?  What are the strengths and weaknesses of the various approaches to your question contained in the literature?  What is — and why is it — the most intelligent approach to (or explanation of) the topic question you addressed?)
CONCLUSION:  Discuss your analysis.  This should be more than just a “this is what I said above” section.  It should note your conclusions and discuss their implications.  What is the significance of your conclusion – the answer to the research question that frames your research and analysis?
To do the paper well, you will need to read extensively in both case opinions (NB: read and cite these only from unedited sources; i.e., use no case law texts) and secondary materials (e.g., politi­cal science journals, law reviews, and books).  The better you organize, integrate, and critique these bodies of literature, the better you will do on your paper.
It almost goes without saying that a well-structured paper is grammatically correct, stylistically clear, and internally coherent.  The reader should not be jarred by misspellings, sudden and unex­plained transitions in thought, paragraphs that go on well past the confines of their introductory sentences, and sentences that are fragments, run-ons, or so convoluted as to convey no clear idea at all.  Do yourself (and your grade) a favor.  Finish a first draft of your paper a week before handing it in.  Put it aside for a day or two to let it “rest,” and then return to it and give it a thor­ough edit and rewrite.  It will amaze you how much this improves the clarity and quality of the paper’s presentation.
One final suggestion on the organizational front: make judicious use of headings and subheadings to demarcate the analytically and substantively different sections of your paper.  The headings provide a rough outline of the terrain your paper will cover and move it over that terrain in a coherent and orderly fashion.  The subsections note the particular points of emphasis (importance) within each section.  When well done, each section will have an introductory and thesis paragraph, subsections (if needed) to demonstrate and advance that thesis, and a concluding paragraph that pulls the material treated in the section pointedly into the general topic and thesis of the paper.  These sections can stand alone: a sort of mini essay on a component of your general topic.  You will, in this way, develop the general argument of the paper in an internally coherent and clearly and logically structured fashion.
Resources.  A variety of popular and scholarly journals and magazines may contain articles relevant to your research. Be sure to check in with Mrs. Aureswald and with your local library for book resources and newspaper databases. Studies of the Supreme Court and legal topics will also be useful. Law reviews and journals (e.g., Harvard Law Review, Yale Law Journal) come immediately to mind, but you may also find articles of relevance in relevant disciplinary (e.g., political science, history, and sociology) journals and “middle-brow” journals of opinion and commentary (e.g., The New Republic, National Review, and The Nation). Generally, you would be well served to search them for articles of relevance to your topic.  From a computer, these can be found via sources like JSTOR.
Research Guidelines: Students often ask me, “How many sources do I need to use?”  The honest answer is “As many as you need to flesh out the analysis you want to make.  The more the better.” However, I have found that honesty too often provides insufficient guidance: I get skimpy bibliographies that do not allow students to explore the contours of their topic adequately.  Thus, here are some guidelines:
Books:                                                      At least one
Law Reviews:                                              At least three articles (ABA Preview and Legal        Information Reference Center)
Newspapers:                                              At least the New York Times  Washington Post
Political Science,History Journals,
Peer Reviewed:                                        At least two articles
Supreme Court Opinions:                          At least the leading opinions relevant to your topic

Expectations and Structure.  In assembling your research and writing your paper, structural concerns become criti­cal. 


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