Writing a law dissertation appendix

Unless your institution stipulates that you must produce an appendix, the best advice is to avoid producing one. If you are at in all doubt, be sure to speak to your tutor or supervisor.

Whether an appendix is required is likely to depend on which particular methodology you have adopted for your law dissertation. A dissertation based solely on a consideration of black-letter law is unlikely to require an appendix as your sources will be included within your bibliography. If however you have followed a more sociolegal approach, information which demonstrates how you conducted your research could be included. This is likely to include for example uncompleted questionnaires, letters and other forms used to gain permission, uncompleted data sheets from observations, interview schedule of questions and background information as to your methods of working which whilst important to your dissertation are not central to it. It is also a means of including material that would be of interest to a specialist. An appendix is not a means of circumventing your institution's word limit or of padding out a short dissertation with other people's work.

If you must produce an appendix, a cardinal rule is not to include any substantive material. This would include for example completed questionnaires, data sheets from observations or material in which you discuss the issues. If the material is relevant, then include it within the main body of your dissertation. If not, then do not include it anywhere.

As a rule of thumb, what is included in an appendix should be regarded as optional reading that does not affect the main themes and conclusion of your dissertation. It does however need to be really useful information and every appendix must be referred to at some point in the main body of your dissertation, however briefly, for example 'The original pilot questionnaire (see Appendix A) was rejected ...' or 'Records for 1977 were studied and a summary of those figures are found in Appendix C'.

If you are at all in doubt as to what you should or should not include in your appendix, or even as to one is even required, we at Law Teacher are here to help.