Sample Legal Research Paper India

A Guide to India’s Legal Research and Legal System


By Dr. Rakesh Kumar Srivastava

Dr. R.K. Shrivastava is presently Chief Librarian at the Supreme Court of India, New Delhi.  He has more than twenty-four years of experience in the field of law librarianship in India.  He has a degree in Law, a Postgraduate degree in Library & Information Science and a Doctorate degree in Library & Information Science.  He has been a guest faculty member in many institutions, an academic counsellor of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and the Rajarishi Tandon Open University, Allahabad.  He has been an Honorary Principal of School of Law of Library Science, Lucknow for more than 15 years. He is a member of many professional bodies, including his service as the General Secretary of the U.P. Library Association and the Vice-President of the Indian Library Association.  Due to his work in the field of law librarianship, he has been awarded by the U.P. Government. He is presently a member of the Academic Council, Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur.   He recently delivered lectures on legal research methodology in National Judicial Academy, Bhopal and Karnataka Judicial Academy, Bangalore, Academic Staff College, Jamia Milia Univesity and in Ranganathan Research Circle, New Delhi.


He has published more than fifty papers on various aspects of library and information science and law, and he has presented papers in many national and international conferences. He has been invited to deliver many online lectures on library automation by the Centre for Educational Consortium of the University Grant Commission and has been the “Resource Person” in many Radio Counseling Sessions of Indira Gandhi National Open University. He was invited to serve as a speaker in an international conference on law librarianship of the IALL at Bombay in December, 2006; he also delivered lectures on developing a law library collection at the Library of Congress, New Delhi.  Presently, he is also helping the Library of Congress as an Honorary Consultant on Legal Resources.


Published October 2008
Read the Update!


Table of Contents



1. Judicial Administration in Ancient India

2. Legal System in India during the British Period

3. Constitution of India

4. Union and State Judiciary

5. Independence of Judiciary

6. Law Commission of India

7. Legal Profession

8. Legal Education

9. Manifestations of Legal Literature

10. Law Reporting in India

11. Legal Research Methodology

11.1. Finding Case Laws

11.2. Legislative Intent

11.3. Legislative Intent of Tax Statutes/Excise and Customs, Tariff, Excise Tariff and Service Tax, etc.

11.4. Research for the Material for Preparing Speeches

11.5. Law Lexicons/Legal Dictionaries

12. Important Legal Sources in India

12.1. Commentaries

12.2. Digests

12.3. Law Lexicon

12.4. Encyclopedic Reference Source

12.5. Manual of Central Acts

12.6. Statutory Rules

12.7. Important Law Reports in India

12.8. Important Academic Law Journals

13. Important Legal Websites in India




India’s first major civilization flourished around 2500 BC in the Indus river valley.  This civilization, which continued for 1000 years and is known as Harappan culture, appears to have been the culmination of thousands of years of settlement. 


For many thousands of years, India’s social and religious structures have withstood invasions, famines, religious persecutions, political upheavals and many other cataclysms.  Few other countries have national identities with such a long and vibrant history.


The roots of the present day human institutions lie deeply buried in the past.  This is also true about the country’s law and legal system.  The legal system of a country at any given time cannot be said to be creation of one man for one day; it represents the cumulative effect of the endeavour, experience, thoughtful planning and patient labour of a large number of people throughout generations.


The modern judicial system in India started to take shape with the control of the British in India during the 17th century.  The British Empire continued till 1947, and the present judicial system in India owes much to the judicial system developed during the time of the British.


1. Judicial Administration in Ancient India


Law in ancient India meant “Dharma” in the broader sense.  The Vedas, regarded as divine revelation, were the supreme source of authority for all codes which contained what was then understood as law or dharma.  The traditional records have governed and molded the life and evolution of the Hindu community from age to age.  These are supposed to have their source in the Rigveda.


Justice was administered in ancient India according to the rules of civil and criminal law as provided in the Manusmriti.  There was a regular system of local courts from which an appeal lay to the superior court at the capital, and from there to the King in his own court. The King’s Court was composed of himself, a number of judges, and his domestic chaplain who directed his conscience; but they only advised and the decision rested with the King. Arbitrators in three gradations existed below the local courts: first of kinsmen, secondly of men of the same trade, and thirdly, of townsmen.  An appeal lay from the first to the second, from the second to the third, and from the third to the local court.  Thus under this system there were no less than five appeals.  Decision by arbitration, generally of five (Panches), was very common when other means of obtaining justice were not available.  The village headman was the judge and magistrate of the village community and also collected and transmitted the Government revenue.


2. Legal System in India during the British Period


India has one of the oldest legal systems in the world. Its law and jurisprudence stretches back centuries, forming a living tradition which has grown and evolved with the lives of its diverse people.  The history of the present judicial system may be traced back to the year 1726, when a Charter was issued by King George I for bringing about important changes in the judicial administration of the Presidency Towns of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras.  The system of appeals from India to the Privy Council in England was introduced by this Charter in 1726.


In order to bring about better management of the affairs of the East India Company, the East India Company Regulating Act of 1773 was promulgated by the King.  This Act subjected the East India Company to the control of the British Government and made a provision for His Majesty by Charters or Letters Patent to establish the Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William at Calcutta, superseding the then prevalent judicial system.  The Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William was established by a letter patent issued on March 26, 1774.  This Court, as a court of record, had full power and authority to hear and determine all complaints against any of His Majesty’s subjects for any crimes and also to entertain, hear and determine any suits or actions against any of His Majesty’s subjects in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.  Two more Supreme Courts, conceived along the same lines as that of the Supreme Court of Calcutta, were established at Madras and Bombay by King George III through Charters issued on 26th December, 1800 and on 8th December, 1823 respectively.


The role of the Privy Council has been a great unifying force and the instrument and embodiment of the rule of law in India.  The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was made a Statutory Permanent Committee of legal experts to hear appeals from the British Colonies in the year 1833 by an Act passed by the British Parliament.  Thus, the Act of 1833 transformed the Privy Council into a great imperial court of unimpeachable authority.


The Indian High Court’s Act 1861 reorganized the then prevalent judicial system in the country by abolishing the Supreme Courts at Fort William, Madras, and Bombay, and also the then existing Sadar Adalats in the Presidency Towns.  The High Courts were established having civil, criminal, admiralty, vice-admiralty, testimony, intestate, and matrimonial jurisdiction, as well as original and appellate jurisdiction.


Provincial autonomy was established in India with the establishment of the Government of India Act, 1935, which introduced responsibility at the provincial level and sought the Union of British Indian Provinces with the rulers of Estate in a federation.  As a federal system depends largely upon a just and competent administration of the law between governments themselves, the 1935 Act provided for the establishment of the Federal Court, forerunner of the Supreme Court of India.  The Federal Court was the second highest Court in the judicial hierarchy in India.


The Federal Court was the first Constitutional Court and also the first all-India Court of extensive jurisdiction, and it had Original Jurisdiction in matters where there was dispute between the provinces or federal States.  It was also the Appellate Court for the judgments, decrees, or final orders of the High Courts.  Thus, the Federal Court of India had original, appellate and advisory jurisdiction.  The doctrine of precedent in India also had its roots in Federal Court as the law declared by the Federal Court and Privy Council has been given binding affect on all the courts in British India.


3. Constitution of India

The Indian Constitution is basically federal in form and is marked by the traditional characteristics of a federal system, namely Supremacy of the Constitution, division of power between the Union and State, and theexistence of an independent judiciary in the Indian Constitution.  The three organs of the State – State, Legislature and Judiciary – have to function within their own spheres demarcated under the Constitution. In other words, the doctrine of Separationof Powers has been implicitly recognized by the Indian Constitution.  The basic structure of the Constitution is unchangeable and only such amendments to the Constitution are allowed which do not affect its basic structure or rob it of its essential character.  The Constitution of India recognizes certain basic fundamental rights for every citizen of India, such as the Right to Equality, the Right to Freedom, the Right against exploitation, the Right to Freedom of Religion, Cultural and Educational rights, and the Right to Constitutional Remedies.  Any infringement of fundamental rights can be challenged by any citizen of India in the court of law.  The Constitution of India also prescribes some fundamental duties on every citizen in India. 


4. Union and State Judiciary


Chapter IV of the Constitution of India deals with the “Union Judiciary,” which provides for the establishment and constitution of the Supreme Court.


The Supreme Court, since its inception, was empowered with jurisdiction far greater than that of any comparable court anywhere in the world.


As a federal court, it has exclusive jurisdiction to determine disputes between the Union of India and any state and the states inter-se.  Under Article 32, it issue writs for enforcement of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India.


As an appellate court, it could hear appeals from the state high courts on civil, criminal and constitutional matters.


It has the special appellate power under Article 136 to grant leave to appeal from any tribunal or court.  Thus, it is a forum for the redressing of grievance not only in its jurisdiction as conferred by the constitution, but also as a platform and forum for every grievance in the country which requires judicial intervention.


The Supreme Court, with the present strength of 25 judges and the chief justice, is the repository of all judicial powers at the national level.  Supreme Court judges holds office until they reach the age of 65 years.


The State Judiciary consists of a high court for each state and subordinate courts in each district.  Each high court consists of a chief justice and a number of puisne judges.  The high court judges are appointed by the President after consultation with the chief justice of India and the chief justice of that state.  The high court judge holds office until he reaches the age of 62 years.


5. Independence of Judiciary


The principle of the independence of justice is a basic feature of the constitution.  In a country like India, which is marching along the road to social justice with the banner of democracy and the rule of law, the principle of independence of justice should not only be treated as an abstract conception but also a living faith.


Independence of justice deals with the independence of the individual judges in relation to their appointment, tenure, and payment of salaries, and also non-removal except by process of impeachment.  It also means the “Institutional Independence of the Judiciary”.  The concept of independence of justice is a noble concept which inspires the constitutional scheme and constitutes the foundation on which rests the edifice of our democratic polity.


It is absolutely essential that the judiciary must be free from executive pressure or influence and this has been secured by the constitution maker by making elaborate provisions in the constitution of India.


6. Law Commission of India


The Law Commission of India was started in 1955 by an executive order.  In order to confront new situations and problems which arise from time to time and to amend law which calls for amendment, a body like the Law Commission is absolutely essential.  This is because it is a body which is not committed to any political party and which consists of judges and lawyers, who are expert in the field and who would bring to bear upon the problems purely judicial and impartial minds. As the parliament is very busy in day-to-day debates and discussions, its members do not have the necessary time to consider legal changes required to meet the new situations and problems in a constructive manner.  For that the Law Commission may be able to serve its purpose effectively.


The function of the law commission is to study the existing laws, suggest amendments to the same if necessary, and to make recommendations for enacting new laws.  The recommendations for amendment of the existing laws are made by the commission either suomotu or on the request of the government.


Presently, the eighteenth Law Commission is in existence.  The Law Commission in India has brought out 207 scholarly reports to date on various legal aspects.  The full text for each report is available on the commission’s website.


7. Legal Profession


The profession of law is called a noble profession, and lawyers are a force for the perseverance and strengthening of constitutional government because they are guardians of the modern legal system.   The first step in the direction of organizing a legal profession in India was taken in 1774 with the establishment of the Supreme Court at Calcutta.  The Supreme Court was empowered “to approve, admit and enroll such and so many advocates, Vakils and Attorneys-at-law” as to the court “shall seem meet”.   The Bengal Regulation VII of 1793 for the first time created a regular legal profession for the companies’ courts.  Other, similar regulations were passed to regulate the legal profession in the Companies courts in Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Madras, and Bombay.


The Legal Practitioner Act of 1879 was enacted to consolidate and amend the law relating to legal practitioners.  This empowered an advocate/Vakil to enroll on the roll in any high court and to practice in all the Courts subordinate to the high court concerned, and also to practice in any court in British India other than the high court on whose roll he was not enrolled.


After independence of India, it was felt that the judicial administration in India should be changed according to the needs of the time.   Presently, the legal profession in India is governed by the Advocates Act of 1961, which was enacted on the recommendation of the Law Commission of India to consolidate the law relating to legal practitioners and to provide for the constitution of the Bar Council and the All India Bar.  Under the Advocates Act, the Bar Council of India has been created as a statutory body to admit persons as advocates on its roll, to prepare and maintain such roll, to entertain and determine instances of misconduct against advocates on its roll and to safeguard the rights, privileges, and interests of advocates on its roll.  The Bar Council of India is also an apex statutory body which lays down standards of professional conduct and etiquette for advocates, while promoting and supporting law reform.


8. Legal Education


Legal education in India is regulated by the Bar Council of India, which is a statutory body constituted under the Advocates’ Act of 1961.  There are two types of graduate level law courses in India:     


(i)             A 3 year course after graduation; and,  

(ii)           A 5 year integrated course after the 10 + 2 leading to a graduate degree with honors and a degree in law.


The Bar Council of India rules prescribe norms for recognition of the universities/colleges imparting legal education.  A graduate from a recognized law college, under the Advocates Act of 1961, is only entitled to be registered as an advocate with the Bar Council, and any law graduate registered with Bar Council is eligible to practice in any court of law in India.


9. Manifestations of Legal Literature


Legal fraternity may need different types of information, such as case laws, statutory provisions, rules framed under any act, object and reasons of any act, amendment of any act, notifications issued under any particular statute, debates in parliament at the time of enactment of any particular act, or academic articles on a given topic in different situations.


Legal literature manifests itself in many forms such as:


(i)           Bare Acts

(ii)          Commentaries on specific laws

(iii)        Manuals/local acts

(iv)         Reports

a)               Law Commission Reports

b)               Committee/Commission Reports

c)                Annual Reports

d)               Parliamentary Committee Reports

Ø  Joint Committee

Ø  Select Committee

Ø  Standing Committee

 (v)         Gazettes

a)               Central Government

b)               State Government

(vi)         Parliamentary Debates

Ø  Constituent Assembly Debates

Ø  Lok Sabha Debates

Ø  Rajya Sabha Debates

(vii)        Parliamentary Bills

Ø  Lok Sabha Bills

Ø  Rajya Sabha Bills

Ø  State Legislature Bills

(viii)      Law Journals

Ø  Academic Journals (containing articles only)

Ø  Law Reports (containing only the full text of case laws)

Ø  Hybrid, i.e. a combination of both articles and case laws.  Some of the journals also publish statutory materials such as acts, amendments, rules, etc.

Ø  Only legislative materials such as acts, rules, notifications, etc.

(ix)         Digests

(x)          Legal Dictionaries/Law Lexicons

(xi)         Legal encyclopedic works: such as American jurisprudence, corpus juris secundum, Halsbury law of England, and Halsbury laws of India.


10. Law Reporting in India


The theory of binding force of precedent is firmly established in England.  A judge is bound to follow the decision of any court recognized as competent to bind him, and it becomes his duty to administer the law as declared by such a court.  The system of precedent has been a powerful factor in the development of the common law in England.


Because of common law heritage, the binding force of precedents has also been firmly established in India, meaning thereby that the judgments delivered by the superior courts are as much the law of the country as legislative enactments.


The theory of precedent brings in its wake the system of law reporting as its necessary concomitant.  Publication of decisions is a condition necessary for the theory of precedent to operate; there must be reliable reports of cases.  If the cases are to be binding, then there must be precise records of what they lay down, and it is only then that the doctrine of stare decisis can function meaningfully. 


The Indian Law Reports Act of 1875 authorizes the publication of the reports of the cases decided by the high courts in the official report and provides that, “No Court shall be bound to hear cited, or shall receive or treat as an authority binding on it the report of any case decided by any of the said High Courts on or after the said day other than a report published under the authority of the Governor-General-in-Council.”


Though the Law Reports Act gave authenticity to the official reports, it did not take away the authority of unpublished precedents or give a published decision a higher authority than that possessed by it as a precedent.  A Supreme Court or high court decision is authoritative by itself, not because it is reported.


The practice of citing unreported decisions thus led to the publication of a large number of private reports.  The unusual delay in publication of official reports and incompleteness of the official reports made the private reports thrive, resulting in a number of law reports in India being published by non-official agencies on a commercial basis.


In India, there are more than 300 law reports published in the country.  They cover a very wide range and are published from various points of view.  A “union catalogue” compiled by the Supreme Court Judges’ Library of the current law journals subscribed by the libraries of various high court and Supreme Court judges (appended at the end of this paper) gives details of various law reports published from India.  It also gives details of various foreign law reports submitted by law libraries in India, which gives an idea of the “foreign journals” being used by the legal fraternity in the country.

11. Legal Research Methodology

Legal fraternity may require different types of information for different purposes.  One’s search strategy for retrieving the desired information has to be formulated on the basis of the “information requirement” at hand.  The most common types of information sought by the legal fraternity are:

Ø  Any particular case law

Ø  Case laws on a specific topic

Ø  Legislative intent of any act

Ø  Material for speeches to be delivered

Ø  Legislative history of any particular enactment

Ø  Corresponding foreign law to any statutory provision in India

Ø  Meaning of any particular “word” or “phrase”


11.1 Finding Case Laws

The most common methods for finding the case laws on a subject are “digests” and “commentaries” on particular subjects.  Subject indexes given at the end of the commentaries are a very useful aid to find out the desired case law on specific aspect.  If there is no commentary on any particular enactment,“AIR Manual”published by M/s All IndiaReporter, Nagpur can be treated as a very useful source for finding out the case law on any Central Statute. 


In the electronic era, legal databases both online and on CD-ROM, are also very useful for finding any particular case law or case laws on specific topics.


11.2. Legislative Intent


In case of any ambiguity while interpreting the provision of any statute, judges have to examine the “legislative intent” of the legislature for enacting a particular legislation.   The legislative intent of any provision can be ascertained with the help of the following tools:


Ø  Objects and Reasons of the Act (published in the bill)

Ø  Parliamentary debates

Ø  Law Commission Reports (if the bill has been introduced on the recommendation of the Law Commission)

Ø  Standing Committee/ Joint/Select Committee Reports

Ø  Reports of the Committee appointed by the ministries for enacting/reviewing any existing enactments.


Objects and reasons” are published in the bill introduced in the Parliament for ascertaining the legislative intent of any particular provision; they are considered very important and, for that reason, the corresponding bill of any particular act has to be examined.


Law Commission Reports, while proposing any new enactment or proposing any amendment in the existing statute, review the legal position on that particular aspect in India as well as in other countries.  Hence Law Commission reports are treated as useful tools for ascertaining the legislative intent.


When a bill is introduced in the Upper House or Lower House, sometimes it is referred to a Parliamentary Committee which examines the bill and submits a report to the Parliament.  Hence, these reports also contain the background material of any act and can be treated as a useful source for determining legislative intent.


“Parliamentary debates” on any bill are always helpful in assessing the legislative intent of the enactment of any particular statute because they contain the speech given by the law minister at the time of introducing the bill and the specific discussions in the House thereafter. 


11.3. Legislative Intent of Tax Statutes/Excise and Customs, Tariff, Excise Tariff and Service Tax etc.


Tax Statutes are amended on a year-to-year basis by the “Finance Act” passed by the Parliament/State Legislatures after the budget session.  Whenever the constitutionality of any provision is challenged or there is any dispute in the interpretation of any provision in any taxing statute, courts have to ascertain the legislative intent of that provision.  Legislative intent of any taxing statutes may be ascertained with the help of the following documents:


Ø  “Notes on Clauses” given in the Finance Bill/Finance Act.

Ø  “Budget Speech” of the Finance Minister.

Ø  “Parliamentary Debates” related to specific clauses.


In every finance bill there is a note for each clause under the heading “Notes on Clauses,” which gives an indication of the purpose for which the corresponding provision is introduced.


Speeches delivered by the Finance Minister of the Union government while presenting the budget in the Parliament or by the State Finance Ministers, while presenting the budget in the state legislatures, are important instruments for ascertaining the purpose of levying a particular tax and serve as an important source of information for the honorable judges for interpreting the provisions of a taxing statute while rendering a decision in any case.

11.4. Research for the Material for Preparing Speeches


Articles published in the law journals on any specific topic are necessary informational resources for writing speeches and can be searched by browsing through the journals, browsing through the legal databases, and browsing through the indexes of the legal articles.


Besides articles, legislative histories of the enactment relating to the topic, objects and reasons, law commission or committee reports, if any, on the topic concerned, and statistics, are important.  The internet is a useful tool for retrieving the statistical information on the relevant topic through various governmental websites.


The legislative history of any particular enactment can be traced with the help of the latest Bare Act.  After identifying the amendments in a particular act, original amendments are to be retrieved from the government gazettes or journals containing statutory information.  Objects and reasons of the particular amendment also give useful insight for the purpose of amendment in any particular act.  The legislation database, developed by the Supreme Court judges’ library, is also a very useful tool for ascertaining the legislative history of any central act in India.  This database is going to be made available very soon on the website of the Supreme Court.


Corresponding foreign law to any statutory provision in India can be traced with the help of any international legal database containing statutory information, such as Westlaw or LexisNexis.  Commentaries on the foreign case laws on the subject may also be examined for identifying the corresponding statutory provisions.


11.5. Law Lexicons/Legal Dictionaries


When the meaning of a particular word or phrase used in any statute is to be interpreted, in case of any dispute between the parties on the interpretation of a particular word, law lexicons/ legal dictionaries are to be consulted in order to find out whether that particular word has been interpreted by any court.  And if that word has been interpreted in any decision by any court, the court has to give its decision on the basis of the appropriate meaning of that particular word defined in any decision of any court.


12. Important Legal Sources in India


12.1. Commentaries





Seervai H.M.

Constitutional Law of India : A Critical Commentary, Edn. 4, Vols. 3, 1996.

Bombay: N.M. Tripathi Pvt. Ltd., 1991-1996.


Basu D.D.

Shorter Constitution of India, Edn. 13.

Nagpur: Wadhwa & Co., 2001


Jain M.P.

Indian Constitutional Law, Edn. 5, Vols. 2.

Nagpur: Wadhwa & Co., 2003


There is nothing more important in the practice of law than your ability to put together quality written work. Research Paper is one of the ways to express what you actually posses in terms of your skills, creativity and originality in thinking. Reading does not only suffice the purpose of you being in a law school you have to back your knowledge with writing some solid research papers.

What actually research paper is?

Research papers or Scholarly papers are scholarly/academic articles that contain the results of original research which is also known as Primary or an evaluation of research conducted by others know as Secondary. The primary requirement of a research paper is to trace information about a topic, take a stand on that topic, and provide support (or evidence) for that position in an organized report. The essence of a research paper lies in the objective of the paper. Therefore, a good research paper conveys the findings of the research in crisp and concise form without being muddled by the wordplay adopted by the author. The selection of the paper (if you are sending it for publication in reputed journals) is done on the basis of peer review which ensures the quality of the paper remains intact to merit publication.

Guideline to write a Research Paper:

  • Selection of topic
  • Research on the topic.
  • Analyse and Plan
  • Drafting/Editing
  • Preparing the final Text

Selection of the Research Topic

Choosing your topic is the first and most important step in your research paper project. First of all ask yourself a question: Is there enough research available on this topic? Is the topic new, unique and timely? Is it pertinent to my career choice?

Pick something you are interested in: Whenever possible, choose a topic that you feel passionate and comfortable about. Writing about something you enjoy certainly shows in the final product, making it more likely that you will be successful writing a paper about something you enjoy. For example, if you are really interested in Constitutional Law, write something which involves the constitutional principle or constitutional issue. Stick to it and don’t digress.

Consult: if even you are a master in a subject you might not come out with a research paper. Therefore, consult. Consult with your colleagues, teachers etc. They can inspire you with new ideas.

Never hesitate to change topic: if you choose a topic, begin with research, and realize that it isn’t the right topic for you for some reason, don’t worry! Change the topic and restart the research.

Research on the Topic

Begin your research: With a topic selected, the next step is to begin research. Research can be done form various resources including web pages (Commission Sites, government web portals), journal articles (Hein Online, Manupatra, Economic & Political Weekly, SCC Online, Kluwer Arbitration), books, encyclopedia, interviews, newsletters, blog posts (Such as Corporate Law Blog, SpicyIP) etc. Give time, Sit down with an issue or research topic. Try to use a minimum of five sources to vary your information; never rely on only 1-2 sources.

Research not just Google: Remember, just don’t go about Googling the research topic, you may end up finding nothing. Books should be the primary areas of research. Read as much as you can. It will not only give you a better insight but also help you connect things better and understand if there are loopholes in your research.

Visit Library and use database: As Stated in the paragraph above, there is some specific Online Search Engine for specific subjects for example:

SCC Online, VakilSearch: if you are searching for Case law

Kluwer Arbitration: If you are researching on Arbitration

Manupatra: it provides judgments across all subjects of law of Supreme Court, all Indian High Courts, Orders of the Tribunals, bills, central and state Acts, notification and circulars, ordinances, committee reports and more.

Corporate Law Advisor: It contains access to search, browse, view & print judgments contained in all journals published by All India Reporter Private Limited for the years 2007 – 2013.

Advocate Khoj: It is a free legal information web portal which provides for individuals to find lawyers for their legal needs and for lawyers to get leads matching their legal specialty. It includes over 6000 legal forms including legal tips, areas of law, legal forms, agreements, Supreme Court judgments, bare acts, rules and a glossary.

Economic & political weekly: Economic & Political Weekly (EPW) publishes analysis of contemporary affairs side by side with academic papers in the social sciences.

Jstor: JSTOR is a digital library currently including more than 2,000 academic journals of both multidisciplinary and discipline-specific collections, dating back to the first volume ever published, along with thousands of monographs and other materials relevant for education. Because of JSTOR’s archival mission, there is a gap, typically from 1 to 5 years, between the most recently published journal issue and the back issues available in JSTOR.

Lexis Nexis: Apart from this, if you are wondering whether you can get books online? Yes, you can use lexi nexis online database which contains full text judgments and Acts of Supreme Court of India, All High Courts, All Tribunals & Central Acts and commentaries in corporate, commercial, banking & finance, intellectual property, ADR, civil and criminal law. It also contains US legal & all commonwealth cases.

Analyse and Plan

Certain types of writing call for a different approach. If you are writing exposition, you often need to describe a process. If that process is fairly complicated, simply prepare a flowchart for your own convenience so that you do not miss anything important. Also, a simple flowchart represents the stages in a process in sequence.

Annotate your research: Once you’ve gathered all your research, print it out (if it is an online source) and gather post-its or anything you need to mark notes in the books/magazines you are using. This step is very important: read through your research, take notes on what you think is important, and highlight key facts and phrases. Write directly on copies you’ve made, or use slips of paper tucked into pages to mark places of importance. Use highlighters to mark important point and use sticky notes to mark important pages, yes they do make difference!!

Identify the goal of the paper: there are two types of research paper: an argumentative research paper or an analytic research paper.

  • An argumentative research paper takes a position on a contentious issue and argues for one point of view. The issue should be debatable with a logical counter argument.

For example: whether the new criminal law amendment bill is sufficient to protect the crime against women?

  • An analytic research paper offers a fresh look at an important issue. The subject may not be controversial, but you must attempt to persuade your audience that your ideas have merit.

For example: analytical study on the New companies Act, 2013.

Determine your audience: the most important which the author tends to skip is to determine to whom they are writing for? Who would be reading this paper, should it be published? Although you want to write for your professor or other superior, it is important that the tone and focus of your paper reflect the audience who will be reading it. If you’re writing for academic peers, then the information you include should reflect the information you already know; you don’t need to explain basic ideas or theories. On the other hand, if you are writing for an audience who doesn’t know much about your subject, it will be important to include explanations and examples of more fundamental ideas and theories related to your research.


Finalize your outline: With the aforementioned tips taken into consideration, organize your entire outline. Justify main points to the left, and indent subsections and notes from your research below each. The outline should be an overview of your entire paper in bullet points. Make sure to include in-text citations at the end of each point, so that you don’t have to constantly refer back to your research when writing your final paper.

Consider formatting guidelines: Depending on your paper rubric, class guidelines, or formatting guidelines, you may have to organize your paper in a specific way. For example, when writing in APA format you must organize your paper by headings including the introduction, methods, results, and discussion. These guidelines will alter the way you craft your outline and final paper. For this, go through the submission guideline given in the rules in the brochure of any journal for which you are trying to write. It is important to look the font size, line spacing, Citation method.

Citations: Acknowledging the authors and scholars. (What are citations and how to prevent plagiarism?)

When you are copying or paraphrasing a particular sentence or paragraph from another source, you are required mandatorily (and this is serious stuff) to cite the proper authorities from which you have gathered the information. The Citation is added by using the keyboard short cut: Alt+Ctrl+F.

For example:  if you have copied a line from D.D. Basu (Book on Constitutional law), all you need to do is, at the end of the line/sentence, enter a footnote and in it enter the book’s name with the author, year of publishing, book edition and the page number. Citation mark for Example, [1] is either marked at the end of the line or in some case on the word where the word forms the essence of the research paper, for example if writing on fundamental rights so the word ‘basic structure’ may be cited as: fundamental rights forms the basic structure[2] of our constitution. Here, the word ‘basic structure is cited. Also, if you have taken this whole line form a book you can cite like this, fundamental rights forms the basic structure.[3]Therefore, the citation is marked at the end of the line.

The hierarchy or order of the arrangement is guided by many citation formats, which are generally stated in the research paper invitation itself. For example, if it is mentioned that follow ‘Bluebook edition number 19’, then you need to refer to this particular citation format and follow how this format tells you to cite books, cases and other authorities. (Refer the module on Bluebook Citation)

When you do this without any kind of manipulation, there are no chances of your paper being rejected for plagiarism. Plagiarism is the practice of presenting someone else’s work or ideas as one’s own. Thus, if you plagiarize, you may end up in some serious trouble as it is ethically wrong and is considered so by every institution/body. Mind it!!

Preparing the Final draft

  1. Try to set aside your draft for a day or two before revising. This makes it easier to view your work objectively and see any gaps or problems.
  2. Revising involves rethinking your ideas, refining your arguments, reorganizing paragraphs, and rewording sentences. You may need to develop your ideas in more detail, give more evidence to support your claims, or delete material that is unnecessary.
  3. Read your paper out loud. This sometimes makes it easier to identify writing that is awkward or unclear.
  4. Have somebody else read the paper and tell you if there’s anything that’s unclear or confusing.

Some important thing which is to be avoided:

  • Materials and methods are not a set of instructions.
  • Omit all explanatory information and background – save it for the discussion.
  • Omit information that is irrelevant to a third party, such as what color ice bucket you used, or which individual logged in the data

The content of a full research paper:

The format (not exhaustive) for the above is as given below:

  1. Acknowledgment
  2. Declaration
  3. Table of Contents
  4. Index of Authorities (Would include cases that you have referred to).You may also include a list of Abbreviations if you have used any after this, though it is not mandatory to do so.
  5. Scope
  6. Limitations
  7. Literature Survey/Resources Used
  8. Research Questions/Hypothesis
  9. Chapterization
  10. Abstract
  11. Introduction
  12. Chapters respectively
  13. Conclusion: Will mainly include what opinion or judgement you, as a researcher, have formed about the topic after the research.
  14. Bibliography

Kindly Note: Introduction, Conclusion and Bibliography are NOT parts of Chapterization!


Sample: We/I take this opportunity to express our profound gratitude and deep regards to our (Professor) for her/his exemplary guidance, monitoring and constant encouragement throughout the completion of this project topic. The blessing, help and guidance given by him/her time to time shall carry me a long way in the journey of life on which we are about to embark. Also, the guideline provided by him/her to stick to the deadline was also encouraging.

We/I have taken efforts in this project. However, it would not have been possible without the kind support and help of many individuals and organizations. We/I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all of them.

Our/My thanks and appreciations also go to my colleague in developing the project and people who have willingly helped me out with their abilities.

We/I are/am obliged to students of (College) for the valuable information provided by them in their respective fields. Lastly, we/I thank almighty, our/my parents, brother, sisters and friends for their constant encouragement without which this assignment would not be possible.

This too, is an integral part of a journal or paper being published wherein you, as an author, declare that your work is original and would not attract plagiarism or copyright issues.

Sample: We hereby declare that we (Name of the author(s)) are the authors of this research paper. The text reported in the project is the outcome of our own efforts and no part of this project assignment has been copied in any unauthorized manner and no part of it has been incorporated without due acknowledgement to their rightful sources and source persons. We authorize (University Name) to lend this research paper to other institutions or individuals for the purpose of scholarly research.

Table of Contents

The Table of contents can be created by:

  1. First Marking all the ‘Heading’ in the word file.
  2. Then click on to “Reference” Button in the Menu Bar.
  3. Go to ‘Table of Contents’
  4. Click on “Insert Table of Contents’
  5. Set the Font and Style According to your need using “Modify” Button.
  6. Click ‘OK’

Index of Authorities


Statement of Problem/Aim/Scope of the Research Paper: This includes presenting a skeleton of your subject matter. In simpler terms, under this sub-heading, you have to state what your “research problem” is. Say, you are working on an environmental issue:

Sample: “This research paper will highlight the issue of sustainable development in India in comparison to issues of ecology in the United States of America and how current global development needs to be checked to sustain along with ecology. Also, this research paper also aims to cover case laws decided by the Indian Supreme Court vis-à-vis decisions of committees on sustainable development.”


This seeks to restrict the scope of your research topic – the things that you do not want to include in your paper, like any other related issue or areas which may widen the scope of your topic. So here is where you restrict the scope of your topic to what you as a researcher would want. A sample of a limitation clause would look like this:

Sample: “During the course of validating and analyzing resources that the researcher has relied upon, it has been strongly felt that the ambit of this area of law is underdeveloped, especially in India. And therefore, the researcher has found in the course of looking for information that the information is unorganized and scattered. The researcher will be working on the available information through the resources previously categorized to emphasize on the relevant issues pertaining to the topic.”

Literature Survey/Resources Used

Adhering to the Research Methodology format shall include:

Literature Survey/Resources Used: The former (Literary Survey) is mostly used at the post-graduate level wherein you are required to give detailed information about the resources you have relied upon to support your research and compare between them. The latter gives a simplistic detail of the primary resources you have relied on – for instance, The Environment Protection Act or the Brundtland Report etc.

There are essentially three kinds of resources – Primary (Statutes, Case Laws, Original Works or Books),Secondary(Articles – Both online and offline, Journals, Commentaries, Dictionaries, Compendiums and Encyclopedias) and Tertiary(Not used as much, but those online resources which make reference to the primary and secondary sources) resources.

Research Questions/Hypothesis

There lies a basic difference between “research questions” and formulating a “hypothesis” to a research paper. Research questions are the questions which you would put forth, as a researcher, to explore your topic. For example:

  • Is Indian Environment Protection Act, 1986 adequate enough to cover all aspects of ecological issues?Or
  • Are United State laws on environment more comprehensive in penalizing offenders than Indian laws?

A Hypothesis on the other hand, is a premise or presupposition, on the basis of which one furthers one’s research. It expresses the expectation of a researcher and is the basis on which one starts one’s research paper and also represents how one expects to end it. Remember, do not get lost in the technical heaviness of the word. Look at it from the perspective of a researcher and you will understand that this is an idea which you have in mind when you start – it might get validated or negated in the course of your research. It looks something like this:

“The Indian environmental laws are inadequate in protecting the ecology in the globalizing world”

Please notice that there is already a concrete idea as to what the researcher wants to look at here – that Indian environmental laws are inadequate


Chapters should be reflection of what your research questions are asking and must divide your research into logical flow. The number of chapters should not be less than three and should be arranged in an answering manner. Your first chapter could explore what your topic is followed by the second which addresses your concerns about the area and third would be a comparative analysis of your topic.


The full and final paper is often preceded by an abstract submission that acts as a summary of what you are going to write/research on the topic. This is in a way act as a filter for the peer reviewer. Therefore, in the abstract (normally in 200-300 words) you have to give the pin point summary of the research topic and the objective. After selection of commendable papers, a peer review panel might opt for an online publication or release a periodic journal. More can be found in the ‘Research Papers’ section.


Give a brief Introduction of the Topic. This may also include some background information of the topic. You may also include important case law to describe a situation if you are not getting substantive material. For Example: if you are writing on sexual Harassment, you can write about Vishakha v. State of Rajasthan Case.


Proceed with your ideas and avoid repeating the phrases.

Paragraphing: use paragraphs as a planning tool. As you write, form your thought into paragraphs. Begin each paragraph with one or two sentences that introduces the topic. The beginning of the paragraph must always have some kind of a ‘hook’ with the last paragraph.


Lastly, conclude the research paper taking your stand. If have already supported your arguments with the authorities, this is a kind of a prayer, so conclude in affirmative or negative tone as the case may be.

Kindly Note: Please proof read the paper atleast 4 time before sending the Research Paper.

Check: Grammar, style, font, spellings, punctuations etc.

Here are some Websites where you can get updates/opportunity of call for Papers:

[1] (For example purpose)

[2] Keshavnanda Bharti v. State of kerala, AIR 1973 SC 1461.

[3] DD Basu, The Constitution of India, Vol 1, pg. 1111, Lexis Nexis. (According to citation format as applicable or desired)

Readers can take Legal Desire Online Legal Drafting and Research Certification Workshop to learn advanced legal drafting & research methodology, take a look and Register Day. Click here to Know More.

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Guide to Draft Research Paper by:-

Anuj Kumar,
Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Legal Desire ([email protected])

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