AALS Panel on Student Scholarship

Joan Heminway passes this along:

The Association of American Law Schools Committee on Research is considering putting on an AALS panel on (1) how we law professors can advance student scholarship and (related but separately) (2) how we can advance joint faculty-student scholarship.

Most student law review notes (or other student articles) are written as independent study projects or, occasionally, as individual term papers in seminars.  But are there other approaches that you have seen tried or particular ways of structuring independent study projects or seminar term papers that have been especially successful?  Most faculty members don’t cowrite articles with students.  But have you seen techniques or approaches that helped such collaborative projects succeed—or ones that led them to fail? 

The Committee has asked us to identify some ideas that the panel can more closely explore, and we’d much appreciate any tips that you could pass along.  If you can give us just a few sentences that describe different models for fostering student or faculty-student scholarship that you have seen—whether those sentences include recommendations, cautionary tales, or just neutral reports—we’d love to see them.  Please e-mail them to either Joan Heminway (jheminwa@tennessee.edu) or Eugene Volokh (volokh@law.ucla.edu).  Submissions received by October 1 would be most useful to us in our planning, but feel free to respond later if you can’t reply by then.

My views on whether (and consequently how) we should subsidize student scholarship are here.  But given that Joan and Eugene are organizing, the panel is certain to be a hit!

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1 Response

  1. I strongly believe that students should be encouraged to publish. We do not have a Note system at the University of Melbourne, so it falls to lecturers to work with students to develop publishable work. I always tell students very early on in my courses that I encourage them to think about publication — and that, if they are interested in doing so, they should work closely with me to choose and develop a topic that is likely to interest a journal. I find that such ex ante involvement is critical, because students rarely know what topics are new/interesting/etc. Moreover, by ensuring that a student’s essay is structured in advance as a journal article instead of as a student essay, I can minimize the amount of work that she will have to do after the course is over. Integral to that process is getting the student to think about her essay as a two-stage process, distinguishing between what she needs to do for the course essay and what she needs to do post-course to make the essay publishable. In my experience, that kind of planning makes it far more likely that the student will produce something that can be submitted to journals. Finally, when the essay is complete, I help the student identify two or three relevant journals — emphasizing those I am involved with or are edited by friends of mine — and then submit the essay on the her behalf.

    The final point is worth emphasizing. I think non-American journals have a much less pronounced (though certainly not non-existent) bias against student work, perhaps because there is no Note system outside of the US. They are also almost always edited by lecturers instead of students, which facilitates using personal contacts to increase the likelihood that a student’s essay will be accepted for publication.

    I have had very good results from this process: four of my students, including three LLBs (undergraduate law students, which we had at Melbourne until recently), have published work in the very best journals in international criminal law.