Tag Archives: choose a topic

Research Tips: Top five tips for selecting a paper topic

Right around now, many of you are trying to choose paper topics for your final papers or for law review. Once you have a topic, you will be doing preemption checks to ensure that no one else has written on your topic. You will also want to do a literature review  to find everything written on your topic.

Some people have come to get extra training in legal research to help with this paper writing process. Find the Legal Research Training page on TWEN and use the sign-up sheets to sign up for a training session. Email reference librarian Catherine Deane with any questions.

Here are my top five tips for finding a paper topic:

  1. Check to see if there is a Research Guide  on your topic that provides links to relevant news sources
  2. Know where the Databases  are on the TJSL Library Home Page, log in with your network ID and check to see if there are any BNA databases that cover your subject: Hint: Look for circuit splits eg in BNA United States Law Week  
  3. Check out ABA Blawgs  and read any frequently and recently updated blogs on your topic
  4. Check out reputable news sources such as: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, NPR News
  5. Check out the websites of relevant organizations and look for recent reports, eg. United Nations, International Labor Organization, Amnesty International

Once you have selected a topic, you will want to find all relevant literature  on your topic. This is partly so that you  can make sure no one else has written exactly on your topic, and partly to have a body of literature to build on when you make your own argument.

Consider using a model like the Steven Toulmin Model   to analyze the articles and organize your argument.