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Alison Fischer A.L. Fischer@uva.nl University of Amsterdam February 2013
Legal Scholarship is
…the story of the legal tradition.
Legislatures & Parliaments make laws Citizens interact with laws Courts and tribunals interpret laws as applied Legal scholars
Observe Assess Influence
Writing = communication
Good writing is: Clear
Choose the message you want to send Deliver your message in the most direct way Send your message to the right audience Make the audience care about the message
Research & Analyze The ability to make creative use of the knowledge and understanding obtained from the research. Write Amsterdam Law School Thesis Manual 8 . on the structure. analyze and evaluate data relevant to the research. systematically and soundly. conduct and results of the research. Analyze The ability to report clearly. and to apply an appropriate research structure to it. Choose a Topic and Research The ability to gather. classify.Amsterdam Thesis Manual: In general. verbally and in writing. the learning objectives of a thesis are as follows: The ability to formulate and set a problem within the field of law.
Plan 5. Research 3. Analyze 4. Choose a Topic a) Narrow down to a research question/issue 2. Write 6. Edit and Revise .Steps to Your Thesis 1.
Part One: CHOOSING A TOPIC .
Choosing a Topic You and your research will be spending a lot of time together. Make sure you will get along. Ask yourself: What do I like to read? Law Review Articles Legal Opinions Class discussions Conversations with professors Social debates What do I like to talk about? .
Foundation Press 2007) 9 .Choosing a Research Question What was missing from what I like to learn about? What could my research add to the discussion? A thesis makes a claim about the world that is: Novel Non-obvious Useful Sound Seen by the reader to be all of the above Eugene Volokh. Academic Legal Writing (3rd ed.
Choosing a Thesis/Problem Four types of “problems” Descriptive What is it? How does it work? What new constitutions have been enacted in Country X in the last 25 years? Explanatory Why is it like this and not like that? What are the connections? Why are so many defendants acquitted in Country X? Evaluational Should it be like this? The legal system of Country X is dysfunctional Advisory What should be done Country X should adopt the following procedures…. Thesis Manual 20-21 .
IRAC Part One Issue Rule Analysis or Application Conclusion .
Conclusion: Individuals have certain civil law obligations under international law. The individual is also developing rights under international criminal law. These rights will lead to civil obligations. *Andrew Clapham ‘The Role of the Individual in International Law’ (2010) 21 European Journal of International Law 25 .’* Issue: Does the individual have civil legal obligations under international law? Rule: The decision-making process of international courts Analysis: The individual has international criminal law obligations.IRAC Example: ‘The Role of the Individual in International Law.
Part Two: RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS .
Targeted Research Start with the rule (the original source) Read the statute/guideline/treaty in question. If not relevant. tribunals. administrative bodies? Where have those decisions been cited? What legal scholarship already exists expanding on those interpretations? . what is the current practice? What is its plain meaning? Existing interpretations of the rule What relevant bodies have already interpreted the rule? Courts.
Targeted Research Part Two Where to Research Internet Journal Databases Two faculty of law libraries The Law Library (JB) at Oudemanhuispoort The Documentation Centre of the Institute for Information Law (IVIR) at Rokin 84 How to Research Students in the English master program will receive a course from library staff Thesis Manual gives resources Thesis Manual. 23 .
Organize Your Research Two questions What have I found out? Where did I learn it? Develop a system that works for you Note cards Case tables Outlines Keep track for eventual list of sources and bibliography .
Issue spotting Rule Finding Application Consistencies Counter Argument Types of logic Deductive/Inductive Reasoning Conclusion .Analysis IRAC revisited.
Issues From Your Research What are the issues (new questions/claims) raised by your research? Are there smaller/sub-issues into which they can be broken down? Example Issue: Does X’s action make her liable under Y law? Potential Sub Issue What is the jurisdiction of Y law? Does X’s behavior fall into that jurisdiction? .
do you want to compare and evaluate inconsistent approaches? That have changed over time? That are legally consistent because of different facts? That represent different approaches in different jurisdictions? .Analysis or Application How do the relevant rules apply to the facts underlying my thesis? Is there a general principle that unites all the rules relevant to your thesis? Consistencies Or.
Don’t forget.Counter Arguments Presumably. Because they are from irrelevant jurisdictions Because their logic is unconvincing Because relevant courts are unlikely to follow them Other reasons . to address counter arguments and show why they do not invalidate your thesis. This goes into your analysis. however. you will have found support for your position.
Reconsider Your Claim Does it still make sense in light of your research and analysis so far? Do you need to tweak. revise. throw it out and start again? Better now than later…. Do you need to do more research? .
Part Three PLAN YOUR PAPER .
your reader has no chance of following you Madman Architect Builder Janitor Garner. and how you will get there. Brian Legal Writing in Plain English .Plan Your Paper If you don’t know where your going.
Madman cluster Dump draft .Brainstorm… ‘Madman’ Get the ideas on paper – however it works for you.
Write down the problem/issue/question 2. Now write the steps you need to get from one to the other. Write down your proposed conclusion 3. Separate them. Let the problem guide the structure See the conclusion coming “Don’t be afraid to kill your darlings” Thesis Manual 30 .The Text Plan* (Architect) 1.
Fill in more and more detail until you have a cohesive story. . Sub issue of first point I. II. First Point I. Second Point I. I.Outline Your Plan (Architect) Visual representation of where you are going. Detail of sub issue Second sub issue Sub issue of second point II.
Structure of an Essay (Architect) Introduction What are you going to say? Body Say it. Thesis Manual 32 for detailed summary . Conclusion Remind us what you said See also.
Engage the reader in the subject Provide necessary background information Summarize the structure of your paper so the reader knows what to expect. Why do we care? How will we get there? .Introduction Where are we going? State the main point of your essay and summarize your conclusion.
examples. depending on length of essay. and sources Conclude and transition to the next paragraph – either here or in first line of next paragraph. as necessary. . Stay consistent with your introduction (or go back and revise later) One idea per paragraph: Topic Sentence Support the topic sentence with evidence.Body: Structure Organize your essay into chapters or sections.
prior to. furthermore.Body: Transitions Paragraphs should progress logically and smoothly Chronologically…In order of importance…From the general to the specific Signal words or phrases* Time: before. on the other hand Thesis Manual 34 . for example… Different: Contrary to. meanwhile. during Relationships • Similar: Moreover.
Body: Analysis IRAC works everywhere: Can help organize the whole paper (main issue) as well as individual paragraphs (sub issues) Strongest to weakest Don’t ignore adverse authority or counter arguments Support your arguments with evidence .
Reader should have seen it coming . broader significance DO NOT introduce new arguments or evidence. This is not a novel – surprise endings are not appreciated.Conclusion Sum up Restate argument Perhaps a vision for future scholarship.
Part Four WRITE YOUR THESIS .
Citation Why cite? To avoid any allegations of plagiarism To give credit where credit is due To give authority to our arguments No one cares what you or I think (yet) To allow others to find our sources easily and efficiently .
37-38 . Proper attribution and citation allows readers to confirm those sources Omitting a citation where one is required. even inadvertently.Attribution Your opinion isn’t really what matters (yet) – it’s the authorities you find that support it. implies the ideas on the page are your own. it’s plagiarism and will get you into trouble. This is not only bad karma. See also Amsterdam Law School Thesis Manual. and effectively steals them from the original author.
on the part of the student.”* * Regulations Governing Fraud and Plagiarism for UvA Students. insight and skills correctly.Fraud and Plagiarism “Fraud and plagiarism are defined as any act or omission. which makes it difficult or impossible to assess his/her knowledge. Article 1:1 .
Fraud and Plagiarism WARNING: Intent is NOT an element of plagiarism. “Plagiarism is taken to mean any event making use of. data or ideas without complete and correct acknowledgement of source.”* *Regulations Governing Fraud and Plagiarism for UvA Students. or as the case may be. taking over another person’s text. Article 1:3a (emphasis added) .
even if you have paraphrased the material When in doubt. You must cite any idea that belongs to someone else. .How to Avoid Plagiarism Use quotations correctly Use citations consistently and as often as necessary. go back to your notes.
The point is to provide a consistent way for readers to find your sources. . proposition or idea that is not your own. The world is round. December 1 is a Thursday. Background sections may include fewer than analysis sections as it is not necessary to cite generally known information.Citations in Theory When do I have to cite to an authority? Every time you include a statement.
uk/oscola Footnote based system .ac.ox.law.Citation Format Good citation is uniform Within your work and Within the community Makes it easer to find a source Include page numbers. paragraphs and sections UvA requests the use of the Oxford Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities (OSCOLA) www.
. or relied upon any idea not your own. borrowed.Quotations Format Use quotation marks if Same text More than four words are the same Distinctive or unusual language Include a citation or attribution if You have paraphrased.
Quotations of longer than three lines are made into “block quotes”. Be careful about too many of these – too much writing that is not your own. (UK. not US style) Punctuation outside of the closing quotation mark. *OSCOLA Rule 1. Single quotation marks. then double.5 . unless the whole sentence is a quotation. unless a quote within quote.Quotations Format* pt 2 Quotations of up to three lines are included in the text.
ac.uk/published/OSCOLA_4th_ edn.ox. but don’t start now. Sixty-plus pages of fun: http://www. but also for European law journals and courts. .pdf Print it out Keep it on hand When in doubt. Blue Book is the American standard Ok if you know it already.Citations in Theory pt 2 Oxford Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities Preferred standard for all UvA writing. check it out.law.
3 Short-forms refer back to original footnote Rule 1.2. Rule 1. loc cit and contra.1 No signal words or “Latin gadgets” “Avoid the use of…supra. Rule 1. initials etc. Ibid is allowed if you are repeating the information in the immediately preceding footnote. op cit.3 . which are not widely understood. ante. infra.Citations in Theory pt 3 OSCOLA is a minimalist system Uses “as little punctuation as possible” No full stops (periods) after abbreviations.2.
Unless.1 Always include page numbers Use as few numbers as possible. for the sake of clarity.Footnotes in Practice Include footnotes in superscript numbers. after any relevant punctuation in the text.3. Close footnotes with a full stop (period) and separate footnotes within the same reference with semicolons. they must go in the middle of a sentence. but always at least two for a final number Rule 1.2 . Rule 1.
Brackets [Square brackets] around the year when the year also indicates the volume (Round brackets) around the year when there is a separate volume number.OSCOLA A simpler system. journals etc. If not. . then use round brackets. except…. books. True for cases. then use square. Tip – if you can cover the year up with your finger and still tell the volume.
1. .Citing a Case – OSCOLA example OSCOLA Rule 1. The relevant footnotes appear at the bottom of the page: Footnote case name | [year] OR (year) | volume | report abbreviation | first page | (court) Not necessary because already in text.1 and examples In the text: Case name in italics No punctuation “It is well represented in the case law. Television and Allied Technicians.32 31  2 AC 46 (HL). perhaps most notably in the expression of the no-conflict rule advocated by Lord Upjohn in Phipps v Boardman.31 and in the earlier Court of Appeal decision in Boulting v Association of Cinematograph. 32  2 QB 606 (CA).
Upjohn LJ said that the rule ‘must be applied realistically to a state of affairs which discloses a real conflict of duty and interest and not to some theoretical or rhetorical conflict’.34 Give the name of the case in full when it is first mentioned in the text or footnotes. Lord Upjohn developed his view of the rule further by adding that there must be a ‘real sensible possibility of conflict’. it may be shortened thereafter.2.OSCOLA example pt 2 Second reference in the text (also known as short form): In Boulting [or ‘in the Boulting case’]. . Rule 2.1.33 In Phipps.
34 Phipps (n 31) 124. Rule 1.1.1. Refer to the short name of the case.1 . OR 33 ibid 638.1 The numbers at the end of footnotes 33 and 34 are called ‘pinpoints’. they give the page on which the quotation can be found. which contains the full citation. then the original footnote. Rule 2.OSCOLA example pt 3 The footnotes for the above passage would appear as follows: 33 Boulting (n 32) 638. It is also acceptable to include the full case reference in all footnotes.
1659 Cass civ (1) 21 January 2003.1 Cite cases from other jurisdictions as they are cited in their own jurisdiction. Henningsen v Bloomfield Motors Inc 161 A 2d 69 (NJ 1960) Michael v Johnson 426 US 346 (1976) Waltons Stores (Interstate) Ltd v Maher (1988) 164 CLR 387 BGH NJW 1992. D 2003. When citing a decision of the highest court of a US state.I. you should also give this in either full or short form in brackets at the end of the citation.Cases from non-UK Jurisdiction Rule 2. 693 CA Colmar 25 January 1963.277 .8. Gaz Pal 1963. but without any full stops in abbreviations. the abbreviation of the name of the state suffices. If the name of the law report series cited does not itself indicate the court. and the identity of the court is not obvious from the context.
International Law Sources OSCOLA Appendix Part IV (2006) Treaties International Cases and Decisions International Court of Justice International Criminal Tribunals WTO decisions Non-Governmental and other International Organizations The United Nations Regional Bodies International Law Associations International Law Digests .
1 Authors names exactly as they appear First name.’ Part (pt). Articles are capitalized within ‘single quotes. journals. pp) Cite the hard copy whenever possible . Rule 3. first name in bibliographies Italicize titles of books. chapter (ch) and paragraph (ph) when necessary Page numbers stand alone (no p.Secondary Sources In general. pg. last name in footnotes Last name.
Goff and Jones: The Law of Restitution (1st supp. 7th edn. | edition. Administrative Law (OUP 2009) Gareth Jones. anthologies etc.Books Rule 3. | publisher | year) Examples Timothy Endicott. . Sweet & Maxwell 2009) See full rule for multiple authors.2 author. | title | (additional information.
2.1 Hard copy journals When citing articles. After the title. full or abbreviated form. Then give the title of the article.1 for list of abbreviations).3. | ‘title’ | [year] | journal name or abbreviation | first page of article [author. and the first page of the article.Journals and Periodicals 3. followed by a comma. give the publication information in the following order: year of publication the volume number if there is one. | ‘title’ | (year) | volume | journal name or abbreviation | first page of article . the name of the journal. give the author’s name first. with no full stops (See 4. in roman within single quotation marks. author.
Internet/Electronic sources When possible. ‘Title of Article’ (Website Name. use the hard copy cite If website. Date) <website address> accessed 18 November 2011 Date of access is important because websites can change . see if PDF of the hard copy is available Author.
Part Five REVISION AND EDITING .
NO ONE gets it right the first time.Revision Re-reading. Revising is more than just checking spelling and reading for typos It is the real writing – the process by which you turn your thoughts into something a larger audience can read and wants to keep reading. revising and re-writing is the most important part of writing. .
Revising Structure Read your piece through from beginning to end. Do the paragraphs flow naturally from one to the other? Does the reader have the information she needs to grasp the points by the time she reaches them? Does your introduction still make sense in light of your conclusion? If not. go back and do it again .
“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I
wrote a long on instead.”
Streamline as much as possible. If you need to reread something to understand it, so will your reader. Rewrite it first. Read your paper out loud. Consider revision where you trip over the words.
Common Style and Grammar Errors*
Passive vs Active Voice
The bicycle is ridden by Peter.
Object, passive verb, subject Clumsy, remote, boring
Peter rides the bicycle.
Subject, verb, object
* See also Thesis Manual 35-37
Do use active voice
Make sure the subject performs the action on the
The object should not receive action from the subject YES: Ms. Watson signed a covenant-not-to-compete. NO: The covenant-not-to-compete was signed by Ms. Watson.
Passive sentences lack clarity, is less forceful and
contains unnecessary words.
NO: It was insisted by Carrolton that the covenant had been breached by Ms. Watson. YES: Carrolton insisted that Ms. Watson had breached the covenant.
point by point A thesis sentence asserts a position Keep the paragraph content within the thesis Keep paragraphs moderately short About half a page. double-spaced Quarter page single-spaced See handout on Transitional Phrases – pay attention to meanings Use transitional words or phrases to move to the next point .Use strong paragraphs Thesis sentence as opposed to topic sentence A topic sentence identifies what a paragraph will discuss Means we aren’t sure of the point Material within the paragraph will prove the position Reading each thesis sentence should summarize your reasoning.
had never finished university and just lost his part-time job. . was charged with robbing a convenience store. who was only 19 at the time. the defendant. had never finished university and had just lost his job. He was only 19 at the time. The defendant was charged with robbing a convenience store in the first month of his marriage.Write strong sentences – Do Do keep it short No more than 20 words Omit needless words Do keep Subject and Verb close together Avoid separating them by long modifying phrases In the first month of his marriage.
no repetition necessary Yes: Acme Pest Control selected the plaintiff for lay off because she had the least seniority and because she was consistently late for work. ‘because she’ + verb ‘because’ + descriptive noun . ‘because she’ + verb NO: Acme Pest Control selected the plaintiff for lay-off because she had the least seniority and because of her tardiness.Do use parallel structure Do use parallel structure to communicate parallel ideas Make sure all items in a least and all repeated structures use the same grammatical elements Repeat the last word if the list is complex With simple sentences.
instead of your version of what happened Will be reinforced with evidence Guides reader/listener to your version of events.Do Show. Showing Providing evidence that leads to that conclusion using specific examples. . interpretation of adjectives. Don’t Tell Telling Informing your reader/audience about a situation or conclusion.
.000 people lose their lives each year because border countries do not abide by the current human rights treaty. Showing The United Nations estimates that over 14.… for example Telling The human rights treaty is important.
then tried to be nouns – they should have stayed put Wordy Are in mitigation of Conduct an examination of Make accommodation for Provide a description of Take into consideration Make a provision for -ion words Efficient Mitigate Examine Accommodate Describe Consider Provide for .Avoid Nominalizations Nominalizations began life as verbs.
.. It is important to remember that… It seems that… It is clear (or obvious) that… It is widely understood that… As noted above… As to… With respect (or regard) to… Acceptable in a FIRST DRAFT – not a final.Avoid ‘throat clearing’ The following phrases waste time and you should eliminate them: It is important to note that.
Print your work. Don’t stop reading for content and structure Read out loud Give to a friend to read Put aside for a few hours then do it again . Read through for errors in spelling and grammar.Editing DO NOT leave Editing to the screen.
Resources Scripties Online Database of all UvA Theses – use for examples of what to do. and what not to do Check to make sure your thesis hasn’t already been written How to Write a Thesis Page Thesis Manual .
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