This article on ‘How to write a publishable quality article: A Guide for Law students‘ was written by Samar Jain, an intern at Legal Upanishad.
Writing a legal article that has great quality is a skill that cannot be achieved in a small time but that skill can be developed over the years with time. When an article is published in a known blog or a website, it has certain benefits like the recognition of your knowledge and skill. It also results in the increase of your value as a brand and visibility. It also helps people when they read those articles when they need information. In particular, it helps the researchers, advocates, reporters, litigants, etc., to gain a deep understanding of that topic.
The exercise of writing a legal article is worth every time spent by a lawyer as the knowledge is sharpened, reputation strong, and skills for argumentation ready.
Article of Publishable Quality
A legal article that can be published refers to a writing portion that is centred around an idea although based on something old or already available in the domain but has something new and interesting. If the idea is something old and not new and interesting, the article does not have the quality to become a published one. It is to be noted that the article is also not of publishable quality if the idea is new and not related to the previous/old research and also if the ideas are numerous and not revolving around a single novel idea.
It is to be understood that here the word new is not used in the same sense as the original. As compared to the original, the quite literal meaning of the word new is not primary or the work which has not previously existed.
However, it does refer to something which has been known or seen, or used. An original idea to get the legal article published is to bring attention to something. A little bit of information that is new can also be used as a variation. Thus to get one’s article worthy of becoming publishable, the focus must remain on the freshness of the material rather than originality.
To understand what type of element of newness makes a legal article of publishable quality these are the following three types of commonly used methodology:
- First Type: Approaching New Information is a Traditional Manner. It is usually considered to be the best move by article writers who are not professionals when a new fact/thing/ evidence is provided with the assistance of an already accepted idea. In this type of article, rather than the creation of a new approach, the focus is on the support of an already existing approach through the medium of presentation of a new fact/thing/evidence. This new fact/thing/evidence can be obtained in any manner like archival research, results from laboratory experiments, archival research, or also government data. However, just having a new fact/thing/evidence won’t serve the function of getting one’s article published. To get the element of publishing, there must be a link and connection between the new and old. The new fact/thing/evidence is not to always be in line with the old theory, it can be disapproved or refined also but if the old theory is to be disapproved, it must be backed by a strong set of information.
- Second Type: Approaching The Old Information in a New Manner. Usually, professional article writers take this approach in which the old evidence is approached in a new manner. This type of approach is usually preferred by those writers who have a sturdy grip on the already existing methodologies and theories which is something an amateur is trying to get its grip on. In this methodology, the author when presenting the already available data is working on a new way to present the same perhaps a new theory/ design/ method. It is to be kept in mind that just like the previous type of writing a legal article of publishable quality, this approach to having a new approach will not help. Just claiming that a manner of presenting information has more power than the old one and is helpful but what is needed is that the new manner of presentation of information must be in sync with the old information.
- Third Type: Combining Old Information and Traditional Approach in a New Manner. In this type of article writing, which is mainly used by amateurs authors, the old information and traditional approach in a new manner. It neither provides new evidence nor a new approach, it finds the middle way and establishes a connection between the approach and information. This approach is more common with those authors who have strength in several of the disciplines as for these authors finding the linkage is not tough and have the understanding for them.
How to write legal articles of publishable quality?
The best strategy which is to be used is to research something and write it down immediately and not just aimlessly research. If did the research for let’s says 15 minutes, at least spend 20 minutes writing down that research. This is the beginner’s step for carrying out research.
This is the following process to be used to carry out research:
- Decide the research question and the need to recognize what falls under the category of that question.
- Identification of headings and subheadings- The suitable Headings and subheadings need to be identified which can only be done when one has some information. If the subheadings are identified and answered, then the headings can easily be answered.
- Making a Rough/Skelton Structure- Once the headings and sub-headings have been identified, they need to be put in order and form a proper sequence and structure and form a skeleton.
- Filling information in the structure/skeleton- After the structure has been identified and set, information needs to be filed in the headings and subheadings. The answer must be specific to the question.
- Revision and Editing- The last step which everyone misses when they are writing articles is the failure to recognize language mistakes.
Some other points to keep in mind while writing a legal article:
- Length- One is to remember that the length of any article must be between 1500-2000 words. If this range is exceeded, the article becomes lengthy and the reader loses interest in the same. The target of communication of information to the people is lost.
- Language- The language used must be a simple one with minimal use of complex words and sentences and the use of technical words/jargon should be avoided. However if technical does need to be used, the meaning of the same must be provided.
- No Lengthy Introductions and Conclusions – The Introduction of the article must be crisp and brief. It should highlight the topic and make the reader aware of what he is to expect if he proceeds to continue reading the article. Similarly, the conclusions must be kept brief and only summarize what the article was all about. Typically, the introduction and conclusion must be within the range of 100-150 words. Bullet Points and Numbered Lists must also be used as helps in the easy structuring of the article and the easy division of information.
- Worthy Title- The title used in the article must be in synchronisation with the rest of the article. When one reads the article, the reader must become immediately aware of what the reader is to expect. A little faint idea must be conveyed from the title.
- Use of Primary and Secondary Sources- Depending upon the information conveyed in the article, primary sources like Literature Reviews, Reports, Speeches, and Photographs, and Secondary Sources like Scholarly Articles. Analysis and Interpretations must be used. It lends an element of credibility to the article.
- References and Citation Style- Any use of references must be given preferably in a hyperlink style to help in easy linkage with the already published information. Also, the citation style used must be preferably the one that is used globally by academicians and professors.
The most common myth and advice about writing a legal article of publishable quality is the need for good ideas and topics. However apart from the good ideas and topics, what is also needed is how should the topic be presented and in what style and manner.
List of References:
- How to write a publishable quality article, India, available at: https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2019/07/18/how-write-publishable-journal-article-opinion (Visited on November 16, 2022)
- How to write an effective and popular legal article, India, available at: https://www.legallyindia.com/views/entry/a-simple-5-step-guide-on-how-to-write-effective-and-popular-legal-articles( Visited on November 16, 2022)