Legal Research and Writing in Tanzania (students guide & examples)

This is the step-by-step guide to legal research and writing for law students in Tanzania.

This guide will help you in the process of conducting legal research and report writing.

Here I will cover everything you need to know about how to conduct legal research, including;

  • what is the legal research
  • Importance of legal research
  • How to conduct legal research
  • legal research tools, and methodology
  • legal research proposal, and report writing
  • etc,

Let’s get started

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Legal research is a scientific process for searching for specific legal information on a specific legal issue.

It may involve doing a critical assessment of a certain provision of the law which in its application is termed to negatively affect individuals or to evaluate certainly the subject of the law like human rights, divorce, and criminal justice and to compare the certain position of the law regarding a certain legal issue in different countries.

The following are the importance of legal research

  • research reports are used in law and policy formation and reformation
  • Legal research helps in the establishment of some legal and non-legal programs
  • It fills the existing legal gaps (LACUNA)
  • legal research can be conducted to verify the existence of certain facts.
  • etc.

When conducting legal research, there are several important factors to consider to ensure thoroughness, accuracy, and efficiency.

Here are some key things to keep in mind:

  1. Define the Research Question: Clearly articulate the specific legal issue or question you are investigating. This will help focus your research efforts and guide your search for relevant information.
  2. Choose Relevant Legal Sources: Select the appropriate legal sources based on your research question and jurisdiction. These may include statutes, regulations, case law, treaties, administrative decisions, legal commentary, and scholarly articles.
  3. Utilize Primary and Secondary Sources: Primary sources are authoritative legal materials that establish the law, such as statutes and case law. Secondary sources provide analysis, commentary, and interpretation of legal issues and can help contextualize primary sources.
  4. Use Reliable Research Tools: Utilize reputable legal research tools and databases to access legal materials efficiently. These may include online legal research platforms, library databases, and legal research guides provided by your school.
  5. Evaluate the Credibility of Sources: Assess the credibility, authority, and reliability of legal sources to ensure the accuracy and validity of the information obtained. Consider factors such as the source’s reputation, expertise, objectivity, and publication date.
  6. Analyze and Synthesize Information: Analyze the legal materials you’ve gathered to identify relevant principles, precedents, arguments, and counterarguments. Synthesize the information to develop a coherent understanding of the legal issues and potential solutions.
  7. Keep Track of Citations and References: Maintain accurate records of the legal sources you consult, including citation information, to facilitate proper citation and attribution in your research paper, memorandum, or legal brief.
  8. Stay Updated: Stay abreast of recent developments, changes in the law, and new legal scholarship related to your research topic. Legal research is an ongoing process, and it’s essential to remain informed of relevant developments that may impact your analysis.

The following are the basic steps in conducting legal research;

  • Step 1: Identifying the Legal Problem
  • Step 2: Choose a Research Title
  • Step 3: Prepare a Research Proposal
  • Step 4: Data Collection
  • Step 5: Analysis and interpretation of findings
  • Step 6: Summary of findings, Observation, Conclusion, and Recommendation
  • Step 7: Report Writing

This is the first thing to consider before conducting legal research. Basically, legal problems trigger legal research.

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Identifying legal problems might not be simple.

Others may start to look at books, articles, case laws, or past conducted research to identify a legal problem.

This is not the proper approach.

The proper approach one may use to identify a legal problem is to look directly at the society where the problem affects.

For example, in country A people frequently suffer epidemic diseases like typhoid and cholera.

The problem identified here is epidemic diseases, however, it is not seen to be a legal problem at first instance.

But after identifying it, the legal researcher may take a legal view of this problem by finding whether there are any relevant laws regarding epidemic diseases in Country A, if yes are they properly enforced?.

Are there any bylaws addressing the problem in the specific locality?

What is the extent of the implementation of those laws?

The legal researcher must focus on the legal challenges surrounding the problem identified like LACUNA, enforcement mechanism, the efficacy of the law, etc.

N.B. The problem identified must be researchable.

Step 2: Choose a Research Title

You cannot choose a title if you have not properly identified a legal problem.

After identifying the research problem the second step is formulating the title of your research.

Your title must be specific.  It must be well structured to avoid ambiguity and cover the subject effectively.

A person who reads your title must get a clear picture of what is your research all about.

From the example above the following titles may be extracted


Therefore from a single legal problem, several titles may be formulated depending on the focus of the researcher.

A good legal research title should be concise, clear, and informative, providing readers with a glimpse of the research topic and its significance.

Here are some qualities that contribute to a quality legal research title:

  1. Specificity: The title should clearly convey the focus and scope of the research. It should avoid vague or overly broad language and instead provide a precise indication of the legal issue or topic being examined.
  2. Relevance: The title should be relevant to the legal field and address a current or important legal issue. It should capture the interest of readers and demonstrate the significance of the research topic within the legal context.
  3. Accuracy: The title should accurately reflect the content of the research and avoid any misleading or exaggerated claims. It should give readers a realistic expectation of what the research entails and what they can expect to learn from it.
  4. Clarity: The title should be easy to understand and free from jargon or technical language that may confuse readers. It should convey the main idea of the research in a straightforward manner, making it accessible to a wide audience.
  5. Engaging: A good title should be engaging and compelling, sparking the reader’s interest and encouraging them to delve deeper into the research. It may incorporate intriguing or thought-provoking language that grabs the reader’s attention.
  6. Conciseness: While the title should be informative, it should also be concise and to the point. Ideally, it should be no more than a few words or a short phrase, conveying the essence of the research succinctly.
  7. Originality: The title should be unique and distinctive, distinguishing the research from others in the field. It should avoid generic or clichéd language and instead offer a fresh perspective or approach to the legal issue being addressed.
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By incorporating these qualities into a legal research title, you can effectively communicate the essence of your research and attract the interest of readers, peers, and stakeholders in the legal community.

Step 3: Prepare a Research Proposal

After the problem identification and Title of your research what follows is the Research Proposal.

A research proposal is the roadmap of your research. It contains the framework of why and how you’re going to conduct your research.

This is a must document. Its preparation requires both art and science.

Things to consider when writing a research proposal

  1. Use clear and concise language to communicate complex ideas and arguments. Avoid unnecessary jargon, acronyms, or technical terms that may obscure the meaning of the proposal.
  2. Emphasize the originality and novelty of the proposed research project. Highlight how your research builds upon existing scholarship, introduces new perspectives, or addresses emerging issues in the field
  3. Discuss any ethical considerations or potential risks associated with the research project, such as confidentiality, privacy, or conflicts of interest. Provide assurances that the research will adhere to ethical principles and standards.
  4. Include a list of references cited in the proposal, following a consistent citation style (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago).
  5. Before finalizing the proposal, carefully review and revise the document to ensure clarity, coherence, and adherence to any formatting or submission guidelines.

The following is how you can write your research proposal properly

NB: Contents of your research proposal may vary depending on your school guidelines.


This is a very important part of the research proposal.

It highlights important things about your research, like what is your research dealing with, why are you conducting the research, and what is the focus of the research.

it may also contain definitions of important keywords/concepts, it may describe the area where the research will be conducted, and highlight methods that will be used in data collection.

It may show a summary of chapters of your research report. etc. Your introduction must be detailed enough to allow a reader to clearly understand your study.

A good introduction takes 3-4 pages.

Background to the Problem

This part shows the chronological flow of the problem.

It may be from a local or international perspective or both.

It must show different strategies and efforts used to solve the problem; success and challenges emerged during combating the problem.

It must clearly state that, despite those attempts, the problem still exists. Good background to the problem takes 4-6 pages.

Statement of the Problem

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Are you an LL.B or LL.M student in Tanzania striving to craft an impeccable research proposal? Look no further! Our expert team specializes in crafting compelling legal research proposals tailored to the unique requirements of Tanzanian academia.

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My aim here was to share everything you need to know about legal research and writing.

I hope you have found this post useful. In case of any questions feel free to ask in the comment section.

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