Research Rationale and Methodology – Law 500 Level Research Paper
The war on terrorism has become an extremely important and contemporary issue due to events occurring in the last decade. The tragic events of September 11th 2001 and the Madrid bombing of 11th March 2004 have impacted on the entire world. Every person has their own personal opinion on these events, which has resulted in much debate on the issue of global terrorism. This issue should therefore, provide the basis for an extremely interesting investigation as the many differing opinions will give rise to a wide range of potential literature on the subject.
The literature review will be an essential part of this study as all literature collected will have to be examined carefully in order to decide whether a topic has already been covered. Perhaps more importantly, it will also give rise to an informed decision as to which literature articles should actually form part of the study. The topic is worth researching because global terrorism of the magnitude witnessed on September 11th is a relatively new phenomenon. It may be the case therefore, that there are some quite considerable gaps in the field of research into terrorism.
Investigating the measures afforded by the law in order to protect the public from the war on terrorism requires a comparative study. This is because the research question formulated clearly shows that the study will require a comparison of the law relating to terrorism before and after the events of September 11th. My study will be of qualitative research rather than using quantitative research as I personally feel that this is the best approach to take when investigating a topic such as terrorism. This is because one of my aims in performing the research is to use a wide range of data which will help me to achieve a further goal of gaining insight and perception into the past and current laws on terrorism. I will investigate the research question that I posed in conjunction with my further studies and results form my sub-questions. I will take each sub-question in turn and will analyse the extent to which these questions can help me in my research of my main topic by giving me a better conceptual knowledge of the subject. This will then enable me to create a coherent investigation and subsequent evaluation of my chose topic of the war on terrorism.
Research of the sub-questions:
In order to attempt to answer my first sub-question, I will need to begin by carrying out a legal database search for all the legislation passed before and after the events of September 11th 2001. I intend to use both Lexis and Westlaw as the databases to conduct my initial search. After viewing the results for this search I will attempt to break down the subject matter in relevant parts. I will then conducting both Boolean and Truncation searches of the legal databases to ensure that I have not missed any vital information.
My preferred search engine for investigating my first sub-question will be Google. Using this tool I can gather lots of opinions from the general public and from academics on the subject of September 11th and the law relating to terrorism before and after this date. My first investigation on Google would be a phrase search and this would be once again followed by Boolean and truncation searches.
I can also access electronic journals using Westlaw and Lexis and will carry out a library catalogue search to see if there are any other journals which could be of use. I will also investigate secondary sources such as legal textbooks which should help me to find out the basic elements regarding the public and their changing attitudes towards terrorism. This will also enable me to put all my other research items in context and will help in my perception of the whole area of terrorism and the current and past law relating to this subject.
My second sub-question has links with my first sub-question and therefore, any research I obtain on the first sub-question will be of good value. Once again, a legal database search should reveal any statutes or case law on the subject of terrorism both prior to and after the events of September 11th. This sub-question covers quite a large area and therefore I may benefit from performing a wide search of multiple search engines using a metasearch engine such as Vivisimo.
I believe however, that problems may arise in my investigation into this particular sub-question due to its close personal link with the distressing nature of the events that occurred. It might be hard to find officials willing to talk about the tragedy and the opinion of most of the general public would possibly be biased based upon the horror that they witnessed. It may be possible to attempt to contact someone close to the tragedy itself by phone or email but this would have to be approached with extreme care. Another worrying problem is that the general public is not always clear on what exactly the laws governing terrorism are. This would mean that they might not always be able to give a well informed, reasoned opinion. I do not believe therefore, that attempting to carry out a questionnaire to assess the opinions of the general public would be of any use in my study for the reasons highlighted above.
In conducting an investigation into my third sub-question I will focus my research on legislation which was in force before September 11th 2001 . This will give me a legalistic outlook on the topic which will be of good use in relation to my actual research question.
I will also investigate legal journals and published articles on the subject of terrorism using Westlaw and Lexis as my tools.
From the research to be conducted, I believe that I will find that attitudes towards terrorism have changed dramatically since September 11th 2001. I feel that after this tragic event, people began to fully understand the menace posed by global terrorism. I believe that the general public will become better informed about the problem and of the laws in place designed to protect them from this threat.
I believe that the research would show that national law does reflect public opinion on the issue of terrorism in that laws enacted after September 11th offer stiff penalties for anyone convicted of a terrorist offence.
I expect to experience problems before I eventually arrive at my research conclusions. I envisage the main problem to be that of sensitivity as the hurt caused by the September 11th attack may prevent me from interviewing certain people and from accessing certain information that might have been censored to protect the victims families.
A further problem associated with investigating such a delicate topic as the September 11th is that public opinion may be extremely biased as a result of the tragedy. This must be taken into account when analysing the research.
The research must also be read in conjunction with its social context. By this I mean the time when the research was carried out, political impetus and the possible person experiences of the commentator. Therefore, an illustration of this is it would not have been a good idea to attempt to research the September 11th event a week after in happened. Time in between was needed in between to allow the world to settle down and reflect on the tragedy.
A final potential problem with my investigation is that my research may be too narrow. The delicateness of the September 11th events means that certain information and research may be of limited access. The actual searches that I have chosen to use in my gathering of information may also be too narrow themselves. This would lead to an unbalanced and unreliable investigation.
I believe that the investigation I have outlined above, will provide an effective and purposive study into the subject of global terrorism and the effect of the law on terrorism both prior to and after September 11th 2001. It will hopefully be able to demonstrate that there are gaps in the field of research into terrorism and the laws relating to terrorism. The investigation should make an attempt to begin to bridge part of this gap by emphasising the current problems encountered by the public and between their respective nations in their war on terrorism.