The MELE Academic Skills eCourse

Dear users,

this Academic Skills eCourse was developed within the framework of the Eramus+ Project ‘Modernising Legal Education’ (MELE). It is designed for students of all levels as well as PhD candidates who have to submit an academic work. Traditional ways of research have changed dramatically in the last ten years due to the increasing digitalisation of publications and the internationalisation of research. Students thus have to master several difficulties when preparing research papers. The problems vary from literature research to the correct structure and focus of the work to the formatting of the paper. 

This course is made up of several short videos, aiming at teaching you the necessary academic skills (Video-‘Encyclopedia’) to enable you to write a good research paper. These videos can either be watched systematically or individually on demand. You can thus use it either to familiarise yourself with academic writing before attempting to write your own paper or to look up certain questions while you are working on a research paper. The focus lies particularly on legal academic research in the European and international context. The course is structured in the following 5 Units which are entirely independent from one another.

Unit 1: Academic Writing

In Unit 1 you will learn to: – Understand what academic writing is. – Engage in academic legal writing. – Make sense of a given research question. – Develop your own research question. – Plan and structure an essay/a thesis/a journal article effectively, including time management. – Prioritise content according to its relevance for the research question. – Produce writings with appropriate legal content and reasoning. – Use both legal and general academic language appropriately and effectively in written work. – Understand the significance of authentic legal text (particularly regarding diverting translations) – Be aware of and give sufficient attention to correct translations of legal terminology. Videos included in this Unit (for a brief description of the content of each video, click on the individual titles):


Characteristics of Academic Writing (Basic) Choosing a Research (Intermedia) Preview Different Types of Academic Writing (Basic) Preview Preliminary Readings (Basic) How to find Research problems (Basic) Brainstorming Questions (Basic) Defining Borders (Intermedia) Defining Methodology (Advanced) Structuring your Work I (Creating a General Index) (Basic) Structuring your Work II (Cohrence of the Discourse and Order of Ideas) (Adcanced) Academic language: Formalities and Style (Basic) Time Management Tools (Basic) Writing a Research Project (Basic) Overcoming Writer`s Block (Advanced) Do´s and Dont´s of Academic Writing

Unit 2: Citations & Footnoting

In Unit 2 you will learn to:– Understand the importance of research ethics.- Understand how to avoid plagiarism.- Understand the purpose of citations and footnotes.- Make reference to sources appropriately and effectively in your work (e.g. by paraphrasing, summarising, synthesising, using quotations and inserting footnotes where necessary).- Apply different footnoting styles.Videos included in this Unit (for a brief description of the content of each video, click on the individual titles):


Purpose of Citations (Basic) Plagiarism (Basic) Turnitin (Advanced) Citing – Doing it right (Intermediate) Latin Abbreviations in Citations and Footnoting (Basic) Cross-Referencing in MS Word (Intermediate) Reading & Understanding Footnotes (Basic) Content of Footnotes (Advanced) Introduction to different Citation Styles (Advanced) How to organize literature: Reference Management Systems

Unit 3: Research Methods

In Unit 3 you will learn to:– Use your local library.- Conduct research on different legal databases (HeinOnline, Westlaw etc.).- Use basic functions of a literature/reference management system (Citavi, Zotero etc.).- Categorise different sources according to their nature, quality, and significance to their work.- Evaluate and justify information and ideas obtained from sources.- Employ critical writing strategies to convey the evaluation of information and ideas obtained from the sources to one’s own research question.- Gather, organise and interpret data from surveys and statistics.- Conduct small interviews.Videos included in this Unit (for a brief description of the content of each video, click on the individual titles):


Introduction to research Papers (Basic) Datagathering, Understanding Suerveys & Statistics (Advanced) Types of Sources (Basic) Definition of Information (Advanced) Role of the bibliographic and citation database in evaluation of information (Advanced) Concept Maps (Intermediate) Search Strategies (basic) Searching Tools (Advanced) HeinOnline Basic Tutorial Nexis Uni Database Basic Tutorial (Intermediate) Copyright (Intermediate) Citation Databases (Basic)

Unit 4: Formatting (MS Word Skills)

In Unit 4 you will learn to:– Distinguish between different word processing programmes.- Format a text in MS Word.- Use the Literature Management System in MS Word.- Insert a comprehensive bibliography in MS Word.- Create your own MS Word styles.- Produce an automatic table of content in MS Word.- Visualise data in MS Word.- Insert citations and foot-/endnotes in MS Word.- Use proofreading tools (track-mode & comments) in MS Word.- Organise & name documents.Videos included in this Unit (for a brief description of the content of each video, click on the individual titles):


Overview on Different Word Processing Programmes (Basic) Formating an MS Word Document (Basic) Styles & Automatic Table of Contents (Advanced) Inserting Page Numbers in MS Word (Basic) Inserting Footnotes in MS Word (Basic) Literature Management & Bibliography in MS Word (for Microsoft Users) (Intermediate) Literature Management & Bibliography in MS Word (for Mac Users) (Advanced) Inserting Charts and Tables in MS Word (Basic) Proofreading: trackmode and Comments in MS Word (Advanced) Saving Documents (Basic)

Unit 5: Presenting your Research

In Unit 5 you will learn to:– Prepare presentation slides.- Plan and structure the presentation of an academic work- Prioritise content according to its relevance for the audience.- Communicate academic content to a professional and non-professional audience.- Visualise academic content.- Develop strategies to raise your academic visibility.- Formulate a blog post on an academic topic.Videos included in this Unit (for a brief description of the content of each video, click on the individual titles):


A Practical Guide to preparing your Presentation (Basic) Structure & Content oft presentations (Basic) Visualisation: From Words to Pictures (Advanced) Academic Visibility (Advanced) Blogging in European and Public International Law (Advanced) Power Point Skills (Basic) Prezi Skills (basic)
Question on Characteristics of Academic Writing