Just think of this, someone wrote everything you have ever read – every book, newspaper, blog, or even a billboard ad – every single word. Everything song that moved you, every movie that entertained you, every quote that has inspired you, was once a mere thought in someone’s head.
Written words have always fascinated me. Even when I could not express my thoughts and ideas out loud, the best way to express them was through written words. I believe anyone can write. It is easy- you can note down your thoughts, feelings,ideas, instead of saying them. I remember the first thing I ever wrote with any coherence was a poem! It was something about the moon through a window. It was childish, but in my defense, I was indeed a child back then.
As I grew up, writing remained a constant in my life. From writing for school magazines to writing assignments and articles. My genre changed, but the activity continued. It was me, my thoughts and words.
But the more I grew up, the more writing evolved for me. It was getting tougher to write. I had to read, research and know much more. Especially when it came to writing an article or research paper, it had to be on point. People taking their time out to read something had to be worth their while.
My first paid article was for a friend’s website. The pay was little, but the work behind it sounded terrific. At this point all I did was work; either at my day job or my family business. I was dealing with data, numbers and disputes. I had not been able to write for four years at this point.
So when my friend from college asked me to write, I was hesitant. There were so many ifs and buts. How do I even begin writing? What do I write about? Do I have enough time to write? Do I have enough knowledge to write about anything? Forget writer’s block, I was having writer’s anxiety attack!
I had not been able to build a coherent thought apart from my work in years. It was like my brain had become rusty and dated. Any opinions or voice that I had earlier, seemed to be muted now. I told my friend that I want to write, but I am not sure how it will be or where to begin. She said – ‘Just research and start writing – it will come together’. And after a lot of work on my part, it did!
After many attempts and errors, I had written a piece which got over 700 likes! It might be small,but it turns out the writer in me, needed the validation.
I went on to write many pieces for that website, and eventually I landed my present job- I get paid to write! The little me writing silly poems about the moon would have been thrilled to know that she’d be writing for a living.
Now, as I am required to write professionally, I realise that it needs a ton of work. If I write about anything under the sun, especially law-related, I have to be more accurate. I need to write more coherently, precisely, and most importantly from a well-researched point of view, to produce any article worth a read. Otherwise, it is a waste of time for the readers.
But writing is not important just for me. Every professional, student should inculcate the habit of writing. You need it for your assignments, presentations at work, research papers, blogs and more. You need to not only know about your domain, you must be able to exhibit that to the world at large. The best way to do that is through well-researched papers and articles in your domain or beyond that.
Why should you write research papers
Writing research papers is one of the easier way to build one’s career. In the time of internet, one cannot be content with likes or views alone. The research papers have to be well thought of and be written for posterity and value.
But there is a method to this seemingly uphill task. It requires your time, focus and discipline. It needs a lot of intricate research and reading on your part, but the rewards outweigh the excuses not to write. It also has a lot of benefits for any professional in any domain, especially for lawyers. Here are some of the ways in which writing a research paper, helps to build your skills and career:
Improved Research Skills
As a law student and even as a lawyer, I had to research a lot. For instance, in my beginning days of litigation, I had read up a lot of briefs to prepare for the matters next day. There used to be multiple legislations and documents involved. It required special skill to spot the vulnerabilities or potential threats and be prepared with a sound counter-argument. That was the job for me as junior advocate- spot the discrepancies and come up with solutions.
The point is that researching skills is crucial for any budding lawyer and writing research papers helped in developing this skill. I wish I had written a few research papers back then! It would have been helpful in my job.
Even recently, while trying to develop my skill sets, I did a couple of public policy workshops. We were given a practical problem of ‘Job creation in India’ and a few government reports to work with. Then we were asked to come up with a solution to the job crisis. We did a lot of research and made graphs and presentations.
But personally, my biggest achievement during the process of the extensive research was writing an article on ‘Legalisation of Prostitution in India ’ as a solution to create more jobs. It had all the researched, hard data to back it up it as well. Not only did my team came out as winner in the workshop, so did I. My research skills improved tremendously from beginning of the workshop till writing that paper.
How does writing help improve your research skills? Let me break it down for you.
When we start researching, we consume a lot of information. We start with the fundamental What/How/Why questions. Then we move on to the sift through the gathered information, pick out the relevant portion for the topic, analyse them, and then write about it. This is a tedious process. But a well-researched article gradually improves your ability to go through voluminous data and pick out the relevant portion. This also helps in enhancing the research skills for your day job as a lawyer. You can study a huge the pile of briefs and assimilate the relevant arguments and points. It also helps to build your domain knowledge about a particular subject.
For instance, if you were to write a research paper in blockchain or cryptocurrency, you will have to go through tons of printed material, videos, books and then analyse them to write your take on it. After hours of research, you’d be a somewhat of an expert in the subject matter.
One of the most exciting aspects of writing is reading. One of the best advice I have received for writing is this- ‘You write what you know’. It is succinct and right on point. We write what we know through experience and knowledge. But a large extent is based on thorough research and reading.
Whenever we read anything, we simultaneously form an opinion about it. Then we start to analyse the research topic from several angles and dissect it. By writing research papers we not only consume the information, our brain learns to develop cognitive and critical thinking. We tend to analyse the problem or topic at hand and can dissect it and form our own opinions.
For instance, I had to write a paper on ‘Need of Corporate Governance in the Era of Scams’. Nowadays, there are diploma courses which give all the comprehensive information about the company law or corporate governance. But at that time, all I had was Google!
I took the challenge and read through hundreds of articles and news reports. The difficult task was the analysis of the news reports. These scams are just reported in the news. But the bigger challenge is to peel the layers and analyse for the underlying causes and real-world implications. This is where one’s critical thinking comes into play.
Writing research papers is like an exercise for the cognitive part of one’s brain and helps to improve their mental abilities. The more you go down to the crux of the problem, the more it is suitable for your analytical skills. It helps develop focus, discipline, and logical thinking. The research paper has to have a logical connect throughout its entirety. So while writing one you develop the skill of critical thinking.
Improved Communication Skill
Writing research papers enhances one’s writing abilities. It is one of the critical modes of communication.
Any research paper needs good data and research to back up the opinions or take of the author. The author has to be clear in his writing, regarding concept, language and execution.
If an author writes an innovative article without a lot of research and information but misses the logical connections in the paper, it would make for a poor read and may not get published. Whereas, if another author writes a well researched and coherent paper even on established ideas, it is more likely to be published. The writing has to appeal to the intended readers and peers.
The clarity in the research paper helps develop not only logical thinking but also brings clarity in communication between the readers and the author. The purpose of the research paper is to communicate an idea or opinion to the readers and peers. By writing more well-researched papers, an author develops and improves his communication skills.
Authority in Domain
The research into a new domain may be confusing at first. But once the author delves deep into the topic, he/she will be going through a lot of information. In the process of picking out the relevant information, the author has to read a lot more. This helps build his/her domain knowledge.
For instance, while writing for a white paper presentation, I was assigned the topic of blockchain and cryptocurrency. So to understand the concept, I poured through the available information. I learnt what blockchain, its history and evolution and its correlation with cryptocurrency. After reading so much about the topic, all my earlier inhibitions about cryptocurrency melted away. Today I have sufficient grasp on the blockchain technology and its legal implications to talk about it.
By writing research papers, one develops and authority over the domain knowledge. Imagine writing multiple research papers on various topics. A well researched, peer-reviewed paper will not only help build your domain knowledge but also your reputation in the industry as an authority.
Creation of ideas and opinions
It was William Blake who said, “I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man’s. I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.” The context although maybe different, but the essence is transcendent- my business is to create.
All of us have opinion and ideas in varying degrees. Even having a neutral perspective is an opinion. The point is that if we do not voice them out through spoken or written words, they become stale and suffocate. If we don’t have our own opinions, we will be enslaved by another person’s.
Look at any mass leader’s rally where the followers chant the cry of their leader- “ We will build the temple here.” or “Build the Wall”. As the masses don’t voice their opinions and dissent, they become enslaved by the words and ideas of someone else.
Whereas the joy of creation is in having something of yours like your opinions and idea, and cultivate it with research. Then gradually see it manifest into an excellent research paper. With writing a research paper, you create something which has the power to influence and impact others in real time.
All your readers are entertaining your idea and point of view when they read your paper. Your tiny little idea has the now the power of articulated words and intense research!
I know of a former colleague who used to write extensively about compliance laws in the company. He wrote daily, and in the end, he had about 80 well-researched articles to his credit! It helped him become an expert in the domain just by writing papers. It, later on, helped in bag a job as well.
The point is that writing daily is a habit everyone should cultivate. Not only does it give you practical skills sets, but it also improves your CV and reputation in the industry. We at LawSikho, believe in the writing exercise so much that all our online diploma programmes ensure that our students write articles on their own during the courses.
You may be pressed for time, or you may have deadlines, obligations and many other reasons, but don’t give up on exercising your brain. Think of writing as a gym membership where you take a couple of hours a day to keep your mind healthy and develop additional skills, reputation and more.
What consumes your mind controls your life. You only get a limited amount of time, choose carefully what controls your life!