By Shyikh Mahdi
Academic publication is one of the most difficult yet fulfilling activities that can be done as a law student. It requires hard work, dedication, technical know-hows and a sheer determination to accept refusals and moving forward. This step-by-step guide will shed some lights upon the total process of publications of research works by Law students, while they are in Law school.
This guide (mostly a portal compiled with necessary information sources) will also help the young academicians in providing a brief idea about research and publication.
Reasons and Benefits of publishing research in Law School
There are a number of reasons to publish an article while in law school. As students, we always have to research and write different assignments and at least one thesis/ monograph in the post-graduation level. A little effort can get your academic work published; sometimes you may be surprised to know how little additional efforts to your existing work does it take to get a piece published in a journal. All you have to do is find an appropriate journal that is suitable for your work.
Besides, law students may get some extra benefits and cost savings in the submission process. While some journals grant access to the students, most of them will not publish a research from a non-student unless he or she becomes an expert on the field. So, it is little bit easier to take a chance for publishing in law school. Besides, different platforms and journals have a cost issue; most of the law schools/ universities have subscription to those platforms which help the students to save a lot of money as well.
A publication looks excellent on your cv; especially it is essential if you are planning to pursue an academic/ teaching career. Besides, a publication helps to gain instant credibility which will drive the employers, grad-school admission and scholarship committees to conclude that you can do research and write pretty well.
How to publish my research: step by step
Step One: The first step in the process of publishing is the selection of a topic. This may sound very easy, but there is an additional step that must be done, which is called a ‘preemption search’. It means, you have to ensure that your topic has not been written about previously in other journals or platforms. This does not mean that you cannot write about the same topic, but what you have to keep in mind is, you have to make your piece different and unique in terms of objective, tone and substance. Searching research databases for similar topics, reviewing different articles and of course, Google can help you to complete the preemption search.
Have a look at the guidelines on choosing a topic and Preemption Search – Writing for and Publishing in Law Reviews: Finding and Developing Topics & Preemption Checking
Step Two: The second step is to write your paper, with compliance to the research methodology, style and references (which will be different in different journals/ regions).
Carefully read the journal’s submission guidelines or instructions for authors. The editors often specify their preferences on spacing, format, file type (Word or PDF), footnotes or end-notes, and so on. (Footnotes are standard in U.S. law journals, but some cross-disciplinary journals use a format common in social sciences.)
Have a look at this excellent series of guidelines by Georgetown University Law School – Research Process. Also, Have a look at the complete guidelines on Research publishing by the Harvard Law School.
Furthermore, the abstract of your paper will be the first thing most journal editors see when they review your paper. Your abstract is your first chance to explain why the chosen topic is interesting and important and how your paper makes a contribution to the field. Make sure that it is well-crafted and clear.
Step Three: The third step is of course, submission. There is a very easy electronic way to submit your articles to a number of journals simultaneously through ExpressO; the process will be totally free if your law school has subscription of ExpressO. But if the law school doesn’t have subscription, you need to pay around $ 3 for each journal, which can be costly if you intend to submit to 50-60 journals altogether.
Alternatively, you can submit your article manually to different law journals and law reviews. Please check the list of Law Journals and Reviews (many of them accepts student submissions).
- FindLaw Listing of American Journals (Topic based)
- List of Law Journals (WashLaw)
- Wikipedia List of Law Journals
- List of Law Journals and Law Related Journals (HG)
Step Four: The Fourth step is, waiting and rejections. Remember, there will be A LOT of rejections. It can take some journals several weeks to review a paper and make a decision as often the papers undergo several rounds of blind peer review before a decision is made, and most of the journals get hundreds of submissions.
Final Step: The last step, is of course the mail that will notify you that your article has been accepted! Usually the journals only give you a very limited amount of time to respond and to confirm your acceptance in publishing your article to that particular journal. Once you accept their offer, you are required to sign a contract (Copyright and other issues) with the journal and then the editing process starts. Your paper is then placed into the subcite stream and various subsciters will start to check your citations and edit your paper. Even for a good paper, the editing process is extensive. There are precedents that if your paper originally contained 50 citations, it will have around 300 citations when the editors would finish the editing process.
And then, one fine morning you will find the journal, with your work and name shining proudly on it.