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Selecting and Developing a Legal Research Topic: Introduction

The purpose of this guide is to assist students who are writing a legal research paper and need help selecting a topic and developing a thesis.

Introduction

The purpose of this guide is to assist students who are writing a legal research paper and need help selecting a topic and developing a thesis.  Selecting an appropriate topic and developing a well-articulated thesis can be one of the most challenging aspects of writing a research paper.  In making your selection, find a topic that is:

  • Interesting to you and your audience
  • Well-defined
  • Manageable
  • Novel
  • Worthy of publication

To assist students, this guide is divided into four main parts:

1) Selecting a Topic: This section contains information and strategies for how to go about selecting a legal research topic.  Information and links are provided to resources within and outside the Law Library, including legal developments, novel cases, unresolved legal issues, recent scholarly publications, blogs and other resources for selecting a topic.

2) Developing a Thesis: After you have selected a topic, the next step is to develop the thesis - an original and supportable proposition about the topic.  This section provides advice for choosing your thesis, information about thesis types and characteristics, and resources for developing your thesis. 

3) Checking the Novelty of the Thesis: Once you have selected a topic and developed a thesis, it is crucial to check that what you are about to say on the topic has not already been written by someone else or made obsolete by court decisions or legislation.  Under the 'Checking the Novelty of the Thesis' section, advice and resources are provided for checking that your topic idea has not already been pre-empted.

4) Resources: If you need additional help, this section provides resources available to students at the University of Melbourne.