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Researching for a MLS Capstone/Seminar Paper or Project

A guide to help you get started on your big paper/project

Introduction and Research Methodology

This guide is intended to assist MLS students with researching Capstone/seminar papers and Capstone projects.  The guide identifies many of the resources most commonly used by students when doing this kind of writing.  However, research is not a one-size fits all activity.  The guide offers many suggestions for further research avenues, and students should also feel free to contact the reference team with any research questions.

The following research methodology is common for this type of writing:

  1. Select a topic -- Reading news (general and legal), reading legal blogs, and skimming law review table of contents are all good ways to find topic ideas.
  2. Conduct background research -- Dive deeper into the news and relevant law review literature and skim relevant books to get a better understanding of your topic.
  3. Develop a research strategy -- Identify the questions(s) to be researched and determine the approach to research each question.  What primary sources will you need to find?  What secondary sources will assist you in identifying relevant primary sources?  What types of secondary sources will be most helpful?  Are there other materials beyond traditional primary/secondary sources that would be helpful, such as legislative history materials?
  4. Synthesis -- Take the time to let the materials "percolate" in your brain.  Consider how the materials relate to one-another and to your topic.
  5. Identify and fill holes -- Develop a research strategy to fill in any gaps in the research and to address any new issues that you have identified.

Want More Information?

The following provide additional information on legal and scholarly research generally: