Using A Memo Proposal To Organize Scholarly Writing

After an enlightening conversation yesterday with a colleague concerning the creation of a scholarly writing course, I thought I would share her method for organizing a scholarly article: The Memo Proposal.

I have adapted the memo for academic legal writing purposes.


To: Professor X
From: John Smith
Subject: Proposal for a Study of _________________
Date:


Background:
Provide a brief overview of the history of the law leading up to the problem.

Statement of the Problem:
Describe the problem.

Thesis/Proposed Solution:
Describe the workable standard, new legislation or court interpretation that will help alleviate the problem.

Scope:
State the focus of your article. What are the primary elements that you will concentrate on to substantiate your arguments?

Methods:
Describe where/how you will gather your information.

Schedule:
Note due dates for topic selection, preemption checks, outlines, drafts, and final paper.

Cost: 
Will there be costs associated with your research?

Specifications:
What are the parameters of the paper? What is the length and citation format?

My Qualifications:
Describe what makes you qualified to write this article.

Conclusion:
Why is this research necessary?


This is an exercise to make sure that students are on track and understand the task at hand. If the students can succinctly articulate the memo, it means that they understand the main parts of the writing process and practicalities associated with working under a deadline.

I plan to incorporate this exercise into my class as the narration to the detailed outline.

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