1. GUIDE FOR WRITING A RESEARCH PAPER
Rules for writing a research paper
This guide has been created to assist students in thinking and writing through the many
aspects of writing, implementing and defending a research paper. A research paper is a
written report of research. The aim of the research paper is for the student to demonstrate that
he can apply knowledge, understanding and skills gained from knowledge obtained through
study (and possibly working experience). This means that the student is able to study
independently and critically certain sources, analyse these sources critically and apply the
information needed. The student is able to apply general legal knowledge to specific cases and
questions, but he is also able to gain general knowledge from specific situations. The student
is able to argue clearly and produce a vision of his own. Another aim of the research paper is
to gain knowledge and insight about a certain specific legal topic or problem. The content of
the research paper has to be a topic within the field of international business law.
Criteria used to assess the research paper
The research paper contains logical, consistent and coherent reasoning. Conclusions are the
logical result of what was written before, without omissions and contradictions. It goes
without saying that the research paper should not contain inaccuracies. The problem statement
is clearly formulated as a question. The conclusions contain the answer to this question. The
paper consists of approximately 12,000 words (around 30 pages).
A research paper is not merely an enumeration of a number of facts, literature and case law;
the findings of your research have to add something to what already has been written. A
research paper has to express that the student has a point of view of his own. This may show
because the student has a very definite view regarding his subject and it may also show by the
choice of literature.
A research paper consists of three parts: introduction, body of the paper, divided into chapters
and sections, and a conclusion. In the conclusion you have to answer the questions you
formulated in the introduction.
Use of sources
In the research paper the student demonstrates the ability to acquire knowledge found in
relevant literature, legislature and case law. The student also shows that he/she is able to
digest this information and to apply the information in concrete situations. Plagiarism is
forbidden and will be sanctioned. All sources have to be mentioned.
The research paper should be written in correct English, idiomatically as well as
See guidelines below.
The student demonstrates that he/she is able to do research independently. He/she will have to
find the sources him- or herself and he/she will have to digest and apply the information
found in these sources.
A timely submission of the research paper is important. If a student wishes to hand in his/her
research paper after the official deadline, the director of the programme and research paper
supervisor should be notified beforehand.
How to write your research paper
Think about your research paper:
Try a preliminary study to help clarify your research
Discuss your ideas with staff members
Focus on your research
Be inclusive in your thinking
Write down your ideas
Do not be over influenced by others – it is your research
Try and set a realistic goal
Set appropriate time lines
Search for information in the library, the internet and photocopy relevant articles
Organise around a set of questions
Prepare a tentative list of literature, table of contents and draft introduction
As a guideline, a research paper design should include the following elements:
A statement on the nature of the research problem
The formulation of the research questions and/or hypotheses that are examined in the
research, as precise and concise as possible
A table of contents
A brief bibliography
The student must invite one of the lecturers to supervise their research paper. Early April (the
exact date will follow) the research paper design must be submitted to the director. The
director may require revision of the research proposal. The director approves the design and
decides which lecturer will supervise the research paper. Any proposal to subsequently
change the topic of the research paper must be submitted in writing to the supervisor and the
director. The student must provide an argued analysis that explains the reasons for the change
in the design and how the change would improve the research. For a change in topic to be
approved, the supervisor and director must agree.
Writing your research paper
Start writing sections you know best
Your writing should be clear and unambiguous
Use similar or parallel wording whenever possible
Let your table of contents help you improve the paper
Write conclusions and implications – do not restate your findings
Make your suggestions for further research meaningful
The draft introduction should be re-written in conjunction with the conclusion, so that
the conclusion provides the answers to the questions in the introduction
Presenting your research paper
Presenting your research paper is an integrated part of the programme. To complete the
programme successfully every student must present his or her research paper in
approximately 15 minutes (barring unforeseen circumstances no exception can be made) by
giving a PowerPoint presentation.
To give a successful presentation:
Discuss your research and ideas with others
Make sure your PowerPoint presentation is clear and easy to follow by the audience.
Note: do not put to much information on one slide.
The examiner will ask you questions about your research paper. This will also take ten
minutes. Prepare for your presentation by making a list of questions you could expect
from the examination committee and prepare the answers.
There will be a separate information session in May where the presentation schedule and
procedures will be explained (the exact date will follow)
The submitted copies of the research paper must be on standard A-4 and binded. The entire
research paper must be printed on the same paper. The submitted copies are to be free of
materials used to correct mistakes, such as correcting fluid.
The research paper should be printed using black ink on white paper. The device chosen to
produce the final copy should provide a clean, non-smudged copy with consistent contrast
throughout the document.
Type Style and Spacing
The print should be 12 point. The text should be spaced 1,3. The same type font must be used
throughout the text and main body of the submitted manuscript. A differing font may be used
for titles, headings or quotes.
The margins of a research paper page are:
Top = 2,5 cm or 1"
Bottom = 2,5 cm or 1"
Outside = 2,5 cm or 1"
Inside or Binding Edge = no less than 3 cm or 1,5 “.
These spacing and heading systems are required in order to make proper binding possible.
All pages except the title page must be numbered. Begin the numbering with small Roman ii,
the title page counting as i, but remaining unnumbered. Use the Arabic number one (1) to start
the Introduction or Chapter I of the body or main text of the research paper, and continue with
every page that follows, whether it be text, figure, table, map, appendix, etc., numbering
pages consecutively to the end. The number of each text page is placed in the same position
on all pages.
References to relevant literature should follow the commonly accepted practice in legal
writing. Footnotes are indicated by superscript numbers, inserted in the text, at the appropriate
point. Usually they appear at the bottom of each page, or at the end of the chapter (footnotes
or endnotes). If you repeat the reference immediately in the following note, you can shorten it
by using ibidem (or ibid.), if applicable followed by a reference to the page number. If you
want to refer to a footnote that is not immediately proceeding, you should use op. cit. n. X.
Generally, abbreviations are not printed in italics.
References to the sources/literature used for writing the paper as well as additional
comments on the main text of the paper are made in footnotes. Footnotes may include
references to pertinent literature, or may simply consist of parenthetical elaboration. In any
case, a section containing a list of all cited material and all references consulted but not cited
must be included. This list must be alphabetical by the first author's last name.
Quotations and paraphrasing
Please note that you should always duly acknowledge the work of authors you build on. If you
in any way use or elaborate on somebody else's work you should make that clear through a
reference. Literal quotations must be put in ‘quotes’. If they are longer than two lines they
may be indented and single-spaced. Use quotations sparingly, and only where they seem
essential, either to clarify or substantiate a point already made or to provide a starting point
for an idea which you wish to discuss. Quotations should never be used to prove that you have
read certain literature, or to simply reiterate what you have read, but rather to strengthen your
line of argument or for purposes of illustration.
A bibliography lists the books and articles that you have consulted for the paper. It is very
important to have a good bibliography. It also concerns the referencing system. You are free
to choose any referencing system, but please make sure that you provide full details of the
sources used and that you apply the same referencing system throughout the whole paper.
References to books should include: name author, title book, place of publication: publisher,
Peter Malanczuk, Akehurst's Modern Introduction to International Law, London and New
York: Routledge, 1997.
References to a chapter of an edited book:
Subrata Roy Chowdhury, Common but Differentiated State Responsibility in International
Environmental Law, in: Konrad Ginther et al. (eds.), Sustainable Development and Good
Governance, Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1992, pp. 322-342.
References to journals:
Th. Meron, 'International Criminalization of Internal Atrocities', in 89 American Journal of
International Law (1995), pp. 554-577.
Reference to internet sources (you must indicate the date of visit; give the full address)
www.imf.org/source (visited 1 January 2009).
Parts and Organisation
Since most research papers follow the same format and have a number of parts in common,
these parts are listed here for the student's convenience.
Parts of the Research paper
Table of Contents
Prefatory Material (Preface, Acknowledgements, etc.)
Discussion: arguments, analyses
Summary and Conclusions
References in footnotes
Appendix required if tables/figures are present
A student who desires the protection for his research paper that a copyright affords, must
obtain a copyright and include a copyright notice as the second page of the research paper.
The notice consists of three parts: the copyright symbol '©' and/or the word copyright, the
name of the copyright owner, and the year of publication.