This post was submitted to Ergo by Anu Shrivastava, a graduate of the 2011-16 Batch of the Gujarat National Law University, and marks the fifth in a series of posts titled, The Journey.
Most of my publications came out of either projects that I made in law school or from the issues involved in the moots that I participated in (another reason to moot, Ha!). There is again no strait-jacketed formula about writing good articles that are worthy of a publications but noting a few things may help. First, topics on very recent contemporary and important changes/challenges are always appreciated. But the problem with these kinds of articles is that you may find very few authorities to support your arguments (if any) or analysis. So make sure that the analysis is bang on point and is convincing enough. Unlike moots, you don’t need to pick a side in a research paper. There is enough flexibility to point out the loopholes and benefits for everything.
Second, the scope of an article needs to be narrow enough to focus only on one problem. For example, an article on Article 21 and the right to life may not be a good topic because there is too much that one can say. You article will start sounding like a repetition of case laws. But an article on Article 21 and a right to privacy within the ambit of right to life is a burning contemporary topic and is narrow enough for a good research paper. Similarly, something about Article 15 and non-discrimination by private institutions could be a narrow topic.
Third, always try to contribute something additional by a research paper instead of just repeating what scholars have said. Even if it is just one small point of analysis or pointing out the inconsistencies in someone’s opinion or marking the contradictions among two authors. As law students there is really little that one can do by analysing something from scratch by oneself. There will not be enough authority or weight behind an analysis conducted by you if it is not backed by some other more important authority (unless it is an analysis that’s mind blowing and the product of a legal genius). But there is always scope to come up with creative solutions and suggestions, like taking off from where one scholar has stopped discussions.
Fourth, always structure your articles. It is important to know where you’re going with your article and to read it in a manner that the sections lead to a consistent and natural flow to your conclusions. There’s a trick to doing this, try typing the conclusion before you type your main article and the introduction at the very end (it may or may not work). Once you’re done with the body of the article, read the conclusion and the introduction again. If the two seem consistent with the body of the article and there is a logical flow, there is a good structure. Quite often one gets lost while writing the main body of the article so it is important to remember the initial idea behind the article.
Fifth, streamline your research. There is no point in reading loads of books and articles and cases but not being able to find out what point was mentioned in which book. Use a notebook, scribble the important points under each text or mention the authorities under each issue, either way is fine. I prefer using OneNote for all of this where I can divide tabs into issues or authorities and then have pages and subpages under each mentioning which authority says what. It makes it easier to then type out the research paper.
Sixth, enjoy writing. If articles aren’t your thing, start a blog. Write short posts about the recent legal developments. Or don’t write at all if that’s not what you like. Eventually it really isn’t worth the effort if you’re not enjoying the process. Same goes with moots, same goes with everything that you’ll do in law school, and maybe even in life.
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