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Researching and Writing Law School Substantial Papers

Research and Writing Substantial Papers

This guide is intended to provide students writing substantial research papers (SRPs) with information about relevant resources available through the D'Angelo Law Library and the other libraries of the University of Chicago. The University of Chicago Law School Student Handbook provides: "An SRP is...a careful, extensive treatment of a particular topic....SRPs are typically 20-30 pages in length, but revisions and opportunities to rework arguments and writing are more important than length." An SRP typically involves a substantial amount of independent research.

Picking a Topic

The hardest part of writing a substantial paper is often picking a topic. In addition to working with your professor, you may also want to consult some of the following current awareness sources to generate ideas for paper topics.

Another good way to generate topics is to analyze the way different jurisdictions have treated a particular issue using a tool like a fifty state survey.

For more thoughts on picking a topic, see Heather Meeker, "Selecting the Golden Topic: A Guide to Locating and Selecting Topics for Legal Research Papers," 1996 Utah L. Rev. 917 (1996) and Part II(C) of Eugene Volokh, Academic Legal Writing: Law Review Articles, Student Notes, and Seminar Papers, (4th ed. 2010).

If you need further assistance, do not hesitate to contact a reference librarian with any questions or to schedule a research consultation.

Current Awareness Sources

In addition to working with your professor, you may also want to consult some of the following current awareness sources to generate ideas for paper topics.

Other Useful Resources

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