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The Steps to Researching and Writing a Scholarly Article: Getting Started

This guide will walk you through the process of researching and writing a scholarly article from preemption check to Bluebooking

The Research Process

This guide provides a starting point for writing a scholarly article (for a law journal or law review) or a seminar paper. The resources mentioned within the guide are available to Fordham Law students and where possible links are provided. There are also some hints and tips scattered throughout the guide that will help your writing. Before starting your research, it is important that you:

  • Plan Ahead. Thorough research cannot be completed in a weekend. It is best to start early.
  • Stay Organized. During your research you will look at many sources. Keeping a research log of searches run along with results will make for an efficient research process. 
  • Form a Succinct Research Question. This will allow you to focus your research and stay on course throughout the research and writing process. 

The research process for writing a scholarly article is a little bit different than if you are researching a legal issue like you may have done in your 1L legal writing class. There are general steps that are followed, but as with all research, there is some flexibility in the process. This guide will discuss each of the following steps in turn.

  1. Selecting a Topic. Where should you look for ideas?
  2. Preemption Check.  Has someone written on the exact same topic? How can you distinguish your research question?
  3. Continuing Your Research. You've got the idea and you've got the research question, now you need to find all the source materials to write an original and thoughtful article.
  4. Structuring Your Article. Scholarly articles and seminar papers follow the same general structure.
  5. Bluebooking. Here are some resources and tips to help your article citation.

Meeting with a Reference Librarian

You may find that you need assistance during your research process including finding relevant databases or locating specific materials. Please feel free to reach out to any of the Maloney Library reference staff.

If you are a student at another law school, feel free to review this guide and reach out to your school's librarians. They will be happy to assist you.