The Journalists is a deeper look at the journals published by law schools around the country. In this edition, we take a look at the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi’s journal, the Delhi Law Review (Student Edition) with Campus Ambassador Aniket Tanwar interviewing the journal’s Editors-in-Chief Daksh Aggarwal and Zeeshan Thomas.
What makes SDLR Journal unique and distinct from other journals?
A part of our Journal’s distinctive identity is its readability. The Board carried out extensive research to understand the best practices followed by law schools across the world. The observations were then used to overhaul the presentation of the journal. The same were implemented in Volume VII. Another unique character of the Journal is that its Editorial Board provides Research Assistance to the authors of papers that have reached the final stage of the editorial process.
This is done in order to enhance the thoroughness of the papers that have the potential to make it to publication. This is mutually beneficial as it not only helps the authors but also elevates the quality of the journal. Furthermore, this is one of the few journals in the country which has a strict policy of adhering to gender neutral language.
What essentially is the process of selection, for the editorial board members at Law Faculty?
A standard 3-step selection process is conducted for students wishing to apply for the Editorial Board. The process is open to students from Campus Law Centre, Law Centre-1 and Law Centre-2.
The process is as follows:
a. Candidates are required to return an ‘editing exercise’ in the form of a word document, reviewed and edited by them using ‘Track Changes’.
b. Candidates are to send a short writing sample (1,000 words max.) – this must be an original piece written by the applicant; they could also send an excerpt from a previously written article (published/unpublished).
Following is the judgment criteria:
• Quality of Research;
• Language, Grammar & Style; and
• Clarity of Expression & Structure.
c. Based on due weightage given to performance of candidates as well as the centre they belong to (for an equitable selection process), candidates are shortlisted for interviews which is conducted by the Faculty Advisor along with the new Editor(s)-in-Chief.
What are your roles and responsibilities as a legal editor?
Editing is an intellectually taxing process which keeps all the members on their toes. The Constitution of the Delhi Law Review (Student Edition) clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of every editor/reviewer.
Principally, the editors evaluate all the manuscripts, and accept those which meet the selection criteria. Every academic piece is reviewed anonymously, with at least two editors reviewing every submission. We look for logical flow, accuracy of content, inclusion (or omission) of information, coherence of arguments, etc. All the submissions are also checked for plagiarism to make sure that the article is not a facsimile of an already published research work.
The Editorial Board scrupulously analyses the manuscripts and supplies the authors with comments / recommendations / suggestions so that they can make necessary amendments to the manuscript. Once the author sends in the revised submission, the editors peruse all the modifications thus carried out. Additionally, the editors take care of the language, spelling, grammatical error and syntactical errors, and emend the article accordingly.
We ensure that we stick to the timeline and leave no stone unturned in meeting all the deadlines. Needless to say, the Editorial Board is committed to ensuring that each submission receives its full consideration, and publishing articles of scholarly interest.
What are the challenges that you face in your work as legal editors; were there any changes in the modus operandi due to pandemic?
Being law students ourselves, and considering the wide scope of the journal, dealing with intricate legal subjects discussed by the authors in their papers is an uphill task. The first and foremost job of an editor is to be well versed in the subject that the paper is discussing. It is only when the editor is familiar with the subject, they proceed with the editorial scrutiny. Since the Journal also receives a large number of high-quality submissions by legal professionals and academicians, the said challenge is inevitable.
The Editors have to up their game to position themselves at a point where they are competent enough to face such complexities. In addition to that, intellectual disagreements between editors and authors are unavoidable. The key is to strike a balance between the two by giving due consideration to their viewpoints.
The journal has efficiently adapted to the changing times during the course of the pandemic and the concomitant lockdowns. As a matter of fact, the Board was able to complete the editorial process of Volume VII in a record time of 5 months. It is worth mentioning that the entire work of the latest edition was carried out virtually, without the board having a single physical meeting. Volume VIII is following the cue of its predecessor in this regard.
What points are to be kept in mind while authoring a Legal Article and what advice you would give our readers who are interested in getting their articles published in this Journal, as to improve their legal writing skills?
Authoring a research article’ can be a daunting task as it requires both determination and patience. The authors must pay heed to the essential aspects associated with writing.
Some of them are:
Selection of Topic: It’s always recommended that the authors choose a topic of contemporary relevance. The Editorial Board of SDLR also prefers manuscripts scrutinising sub judice matters. However, this rule is not carved in stone. The authors can take the liberty of choosing any subject of their choice provided they critically analyse it and offer a new slant on the same. An article must have the potential to whet anybody’s appetite even if the author decides to write on a topic which has featured in many conversations.
Painstaking Research: An article is incomplete without adequate and accurate research. Every assertion ought to be backed by a compelling and convincing source. We must emphasize that legally sound articles are not based on conjectures and surmises, but on reasonable arguments and logical deductions.
Mature Writing: Carefully crafted words give a new life to the article. A piece which includes slipshod writing or redundant phraseology can never be considered for publication. Additionally, authors should remember that regurgitating facts and copying verbatim (unless necessary) add no value to the subject studied and hence can be done away with.