The air was bursting with spring in Washington Square Park. Amid chirping birds and the far-off strum of a guitar, my friends and I were sitting and chatting. Of course, we weren’t there to enjoy the weather.
No, I was with my fellow Journal of International Law and Politics (JILP) editors, and we were discussing all the things that I had to fix in my Note – a 10,000-word paper.
I wrote about how the new charter of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) articulates a much more conservative vision of the organization than observers and academics would like, and how this divide threatens to destroy the organization. While JILP accepts student papers for publication, each submission (and author) must endure a critique from the Notes Committee, composed of student editors.
During our meeting in the park, I listened to a detailed critique of my paper’s structure and arguments. The editors were tough: I was told I had to move an entire section, I had to explain the history of the Asian Financial Crisis; I had to re-write, re-read, and review. By the end, I was exhausted.
The next day, I spoke with a few fellow Note authors about the experience. No one thought that their critique sessions were much fun (especially not on a sunny March afternoon). But we also recognized a core ingredient: our peers were taking our work seriously. We were trying to publish – something that many law students (and lawyers) never try – and our work was being judged on those terms.
I have until June to fix my paper, so I’ll be revising and editing until then. This paper is going to be great. My editors will insist on it.