Introducing research in law and beyond
Introducing research in law and beyond

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Introducing research in law and beyond

2.7.2 Is the research question suitable for stakeholders?

Your research question must enable you to show how its findings have broader interest. A doctrinal/black letter law approach is unlikely to deliver on this criterion without some consideration of the wider social context. The aim is for you to move away from considering the law for the law’s sake, to placing the law within its wider context. Your research may be focused on a piece of proposed or actual legislation, a case or legal ruling, or an organisation, but the significance of your results must be considered with relevance to the wider context.

You will need to demonstrate the wider relevance of your research in your proposal. This will be especially important if your primary investigation is exclusively within a single organisation, or on a particular piece of legislation, as it may not be obvious that the results are applicable elsewhere. It is not enough just to state that the relevance exists; you must provide evidence in the form of a logical argument or citation of reputable sources that identify a common problem across a range of organisations, cases or countries. Your literature review is important in setting the context of your research.

There is also the possibility that your employer or an organisation to which you are connected might want you to research something of interest to them. This means that you have a stake in the research beyond just being the researcher. It is important to recognise that this could lead to a conflict of interests between the objectives of your research and those set out by your employer, or organisation. It may well be best to choose a research topic and problem that is not of interest to your employer or organisation so you do not have to negotiate a delicate balance between the two. After all, the real and long-term value to employers and organisations is the knowledge and skills that you develop throughout the research process. Consider if your findings were not complimentary to the organisation’s commercial or ethical objectives. This would put you in a difficult position and in an unfavourable light. So for these reasons some caution is advised.

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