Writing for Law Reviews Professor Lisa Webley January 2013 © copyright reserved Law Reviews – What are they? – Academic journals similar to the ones in which academics publish their work. – Peer reviewed (meaning your work will be reviewed for quality before a decision is taken whether to allow you to make amendments or whether it will not be possible to publish it). – They demand high standards, hence why it is prestigious to publish in them. – They required in-depth, evidenced based original analysis. – Your arguments must be fully referenced and evidenced. Law Reviews – What they are not: – Newspapers or magazines. – Practitioner journals. – Places to publish your coursework in the form you produced it for your assessment. – Places to publish an explanation of the law. – Places to publish what you have learned through doing research, if what you have learned is already widely known by those who know the field. LAW REVIEW ARTICLE OR SOMETHING ELSE? Initial Considerations – What question do you want to answer? – How will you go about answering the question? – Who will be interested in your answer and what will they already know? – Why is this question of interest to you and why would it interest/be of use to others? – More fundamental questions still: – How much time do you want to spend on it? – What is your purpose in writing something for publication? Who, What? Who … – … is your primary audience? Students, academics, practitioners, lay audience, others? Domestic or international? Research your audience and the types of things they read. What … – … things do you want your audience to know and take away having read your article? You can probably only communicate three to five main points/arguments in a standard journal article. Why, How? Why … – … is it important that the audience knows these things? What have you to say that is new to this audience (not just something you have learned)? This will define your purpose. How… – … do you want to communicate your findings? Through a journal article, an article in a practitioner journal, an article in the law section of a quality newspaper, a legal blog, or another mechanism? Or a variety of these methods to bring your findings to a wide audience? The Structure of Academic Journal Articles – A typical 8,000 word law article will be made up of: – an introduction of between 500-800 words; – three to five middle sections of between 1,2002,500 words; – a conclusion of between 500-1,000 words. – The Westminster Law Review usually takes articles of 6,000-8,000 words in length but there is some flexibility about this. The Introduction – The introduction may contain: – a basic discussion of the previous academic research in the area as well as an introduction to the issues to be discussed later; or – it may simply explain the background to the author’s article and provide the anatomy to the rest of the article. – It should set out the author’s purpose and act as a signpost to what will come next. – The introduction will need to be redrafted once you know the answer to your question and the final structure of your piece. The Main Body – The middle sections may include a discussion of the research method (if it involved any form of research other than standard library based research) but will usually be split up so as to address a different theme in each section. – In the end, each paragraph should make an original point, each section should address a theme or a separate research sub-question and the journal article should contain a complete answer to the entire research question as defined in the introduction The Conclusion – The conclusion will usually pull together the conclusions from each of the middle sections, and provide a full answer to the question that the author set her/himself as a vehicle for undertaking the research and writing the article. – It should not be a total surprise to the reader as the article should be drafted so as to appear as if you knew the answer right at the start of the article. – Writing is iterative and redrafting is the key. The Research and Writing Process – Writing is easier when one is able to distinguish between evidence and analysis. – Evidence is either something that one is quoting (statistics, someone’s words etc.) or something that one is paraphrasing (someone else’s ideas, the legislation etc.). – Analysis is the ‘bit’ that you add yourself, the new bit. – Many of us need to start writing in order to be able to develop our analysis. The process is usually: describe what one has found through research (the evidence), then work out what it means or why it is important (the analysis). Redrafting – Redrafting is the key. – We write to work out what we understand. – We then need to redraft to reflect what we now understand and the links between our different elements of analysis. – We then need to redraft again as new links develop and we understand to a greater degree. – It is essential that the whole article is redrafted numerous times. Law Review Process – You should write knowing the journal that you are aiming at. – You need to know what the journal requires: OSCOLA or Harvard, footnotes/endnotes, length inclusive or exclusive of references, sub-headings or none. Please comply with all style guidelines. The journal will not edit your work and it may not consider it if it does not meet the style guidelines. – Never submit anything other than a completed, polished draft (it is disrespectful and you will be rejected). Law Review Process – Be prepared for detailed and critical feedback. – Expect to have to make major changes. – Expect to spend months and months on the article, and to then have to spend months on rewriting it! – If you are rejected outright, look around for another journal, rework to its audience and then submit. Do not give up.