Asha, an LL.M. student wanted to choose martial law in India as her topic for dissertation.
Her supervisor asked her to reconsider. Why? Because according to her supervisor, there was
hardly any literature on it. It would be difficult for her to write a paper.
The topic should not be too narrow. That’s right.
But how do we know a topic is too narrow?
Suppose Asha found only three Indian judgments on martial law. Would a judicial critique be too narrow for a 100-page dissertation?
“Only three judgments on martial law” – is misleading. It means one hasn’t looked for other
- did you look for foreign judgments?
- did you check for literature in other disciplines such as political science, sociology or
- did you check for official reports such law commission report or other committee
- did you check for any data available, say number of caused during the operation of
- martial law?
- and there is more – books, podcasts, lectures and popular media.
Three papers or 80 papers – it does not mean anything!
Content matters, number does not.
You have to read and review those papers. Pay attention to the methodology and the argument. This is how you do a literature review. Why says what and on what basis? Then it’s your turn to comment on it and add what you want to attention to the methodology and the argument. This is how you do a literature review. Why says what and on what basis? Then it’s your turn to comment on it and add what you want to.
She could have looked for foreign judgments, legislation and added a comparison with foreign jurisprudence.