Guest post by Brigette Mercaldi, 2nd Year JD student and EAGLE Facilitator.
Note: Download this post as a PDF here.
Below are some general tips to keep in mind throughout the whole process of preparing and writing your research essay. While some may seem obvious, they are very important and can be easily overlooked.
Tip #1: Make sure you are answering the prompt!
You’re probably thinking that this tip is ridiculous: of course you answer the prompt, right? This is, however, one of the most important keys to securing an awesome grade for the Torts essay!
While researching and writing, it can be easy to go off on a tangent and start to explore or describe unnecessary information. Make sure you are answering the prompt by:
- Highlighting key words in the prompt
- Always having a copy of the question handy when you’re writing so you are always conscious of the topic
- After completing your first draft, consulting the prompt again and really asking yourself if your writing answered the prompt
Tip #2: Make sure you are writing to the assessment criteria!
This tip again seems obvious, however it is easily overlooked. No matter how brilliant your essay is, if you do not address the assessment criteria you will not receive a favourable grade. Your lecturer will often provide a marking rubric or other list of expected criteria for your essay on the LMS.
Tip #3: Narrow the scope of your investigation
As you only have approximately 2,000 words to answer the prompt, your scope of investigation cannot be wide. If your essay tries to address too many different points/aspects, your analysis will become superficial because you won’t have enough words to explain everything in detail. Instead, it is better to make two or three main arguments and explore them in greater depth.
Tip #4: Use headings
Using headings in your essay has a couple of benefits. Firstly, it makes it easier for the reader to understand what point you are addressing and where. Secondly, headings are useful for you as the writer because it helps you organise your own thoughts and gives you a sense of structure. Think of these headings as a skeleton of your essay. Do make sure however that your headings are AGLC-compliant.
Tip #5: Don’t leave it to the last minute
Again, this advice seems obvious but is so, so important. I recall leaving my first research essay to the last minute and staying up all night to complete it, which was not fun at all! Booking an appointment with the LASC to have your draft reviewed by a later-year JD student is a great way to set yourself a deadline for your draft and to motivate yourself to get moving!
Also remember that this essay is going to be more time-consuming than ones you have completed in the past because you are conducting legal research with AGLC referencing for the first time. These things are not easy to get used to at first and do take time to master.