First authoring a journal paper

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engineer
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First authoring a journal paper

Postby engineer » Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:40 am

I'm not really too sure how it works in law school, but is it "allowed" or "conventional" for students to first-author a journal paper? I figure if you marry a niche topic for a couple years, you will become an expert, and if you have something novel to say about it, it's probably publishable. However, I know that in other graduate schools, a phd in the topic area is a de facto requirement for publication. What's this board's general stance toward student writers, provided they can find a professor to mentor them?

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grrrstick
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Re: First authoring a journal paper

Postby grrrstick » Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:46 am

engineer wrote:I'm not really too sure how it works in law school, but is it "allowed" or "conventional" for students to first-author a journal paper? I figure if you marry a niche topic for a couple years, you will become an expert, and if you have something novel to say about it, it's probably publishable. However, I know that in other graduate schools, a phd in the topic area is a de facto requirement for publication. What's this board's general stance toward student writers, provided they can find a professor to mentor them?


To most journals in reputable fields you can submit anonymously, or at least in a way that hides your identity from reviewers. If it's good enough it gets published. I assume law isn't any different.

270910
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Re: First authoring a journal paper

Postby 270910 » Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:54 am

grrrstick wrote:
engineer wrote:I'm not really too sure how it works in law school, but is it "allowed" or "conventional" for students to first-author a journal paper? I figure if you marry a niche topic for a couple years, you will become an expert, and if you have something novel to say about it, it's probably publishable. However, I know that in other graduate schools, a phd in the topic area is a de facto requirement for publication. What's this board's general stance toward student writers, provided they can find a professor to mentor them?


To most journals in reputable fields you can submit anonymously, or at least in a way that hides your identity from reviewers. If it's good enough it gets published. I assume law isn't any different.


The law is extremely different.

It's very hard for a student to get published, in no small part because of the fact that reviews are far from anonymous at the vast majority of journals. On the other hand, there are 1,000,000,000 different journals and a very routine system for submitting to them. Even for a seminar paper, if you do a good job and give it a solid spit polish there's no reason you can't subsequently publish it.

Law review articles (not really 'journal papers' in the law) are very rarely written by multiple authors, and it's rare for students to co-author with professors.

A good example of the 'norm' is that it's almost impossible to get hired to a law faculty job without already having published 2-3 papers in journals. There are certainly FEWER students in the world publishing in law reviews, but among those who choose to pursue the path it's quite common - and hardly requires 'marrying a niche topic for a couple of years' to become an expert.

If you want to learn more, check out Eugene Volokh's book on academic legal writing. It's mostly on the mechanics of crafting a legal paper, but a substantial portion also deals with the publishing process - including the various roles a student can play in that process.

270910
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Re: First authoring a journal paper

Postby 270910 » Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:55 am

grrrstick wrote:
engineer wrote:I'm not really too sure how it works in law school, but is it "allowed" or "conventional" for students to first-author a journal paper? I figure if you marry a niche topic for a couple years, you will become an expert, and if you have something novel to say about it, it's probably publishable. However, I know that in other graduate schools, a phd in the topic area is a de facto requirement for publication. What's this board's general stance toward student writers, provided they can find a professor to mentor them?


To most journals in reputable fields you can submit anonymously, or at least in a way that hides your identity from reviewers. If it's good enough it gets published. I assume law isn't any different.


Just checked your profile: STOP POSTING ADVICE ON THE LAW STUDENTS BOARD IF YOU ARE 1) A 0L and 2) WRONG. #1 is probably sufficient reason to not post on the law students board, but #2 makes it a certainty.

engineer
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Re: First authoring a journal paper

Postby engineer » Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:10 am

disco_barred wrote:If you want to learn more, check out Eugene Volokh's book on academic legal writing. It's mostly on the mechanics of crafting a legal paper, but a substantial portion also deals with the publishing process - including the various roles a student can play in that process.


Interesting you mention that book- I just bought it last night, and will probably read it this weekend. I'm glad that it's not out of the realm of possibility for students to publish law review papers; there are a couple topics in which I'm extremely interested and will probably spend the summer studying. Whether a paper can result from any of those is obviously unpredictable, but at the very least, I'll learn a substantial amount about the topic.

Just out of curiosity, does anyone know off-hand whether of any topics on here that specifically relate to the challenge of students getting papers published? A cursory search hasn't really surfaced anything.

270910
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Re: First authoring a journal paper

Postby 270910 » Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:35 am

engineer wrote:Just out of curiosity, does anyone know off-hand whether of any topics on here that specifically relate to the challenge of students getting papers published? A cursory search hasn't really surfaced anything.


It's a pretty quiet topic. Comes up a bit here: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=107974

Very few students look to publish, fewer still until they're on a journal. TLS is still young, the first coherent 'class' that started on here are currently 3Ls. I hate to recommend the lion's den, but you might get some useful replies between the rancid trolling if you ask on xoxo, which has been around longer.

Oh, and skim Volokh ASAP. Obviously pay more attention (at this point) to the parts about the process than his thoughts on introductory sentences in legal writing (lol). It'll give you the grounding you need to approach the process intelligently.

Anonymous Loser
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Re: First authoring a journal paper

Postby Anonymous Loser » Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:40 am

engineer wrote:
Just out of curiosity, does anyone know off-hand whether of any topics on here that specifically relate to the challenge of students getting papers published? A cursory search hasn't really surfaced anything.


I haven't seen many topics here discussing the ins and outs of getting selected for publication.

While there is a lot of variation from school to school, many Law Reviews / Secondary Journals require members to complete a case note (a brief, rigidly structured piece that examines a recently decided case) as well as a comment (a longer, more flexible piece). The best of these student pieces are then selected for publication. It's uncommon for a student to get published in an outside journal--student pieces are almost always selected from the journal's members.

Writing a solid case note or comment isn't particularly difficult, nor does it take a high level of expertise in a particular area of the law. The main thing to worry about is pre-emption: pretty much any topic worth writing about will be the subject of hundreds of student comments, so developing a novel approach to an issue is critical. On the other hand, the importance of a topic might not be apparent if the issue is too obscure, which also plays a role in getting published.

The Volokh book mentioned above is a great resource.

edit: This might be more accessible than the book- Eugene Volokh, Writing a Student Article, 48 J. Legal Educ. 247 (1998).

engineer
Posts: 278
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Re: First authoring a journal paper

Postby engineer » Wed Mar 03, 2010 1:58 pm

disco_barred wrote:If you want to learn more, check out Eugene Volokh's book on academic legal writing. It's mostly on the mechanics of crafting a legal paper, but a substantial portion also deals with the publishing process - including the various roles a student can play in that process.


I just read it very thoroughly. For anyone looking to improve their writing, this book is gold. For the next couple weeks, I will probably be going through all of his footnotes and reading those resources, as well.




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