Before writing a column, writer has to think and keep some important points in view: purpose, audience, content, source, and compilation in the form of a story. There are various types of columns viz columns based on secondary data scientific research, Personal opinions, poetry, and so on. Some of these cover specific topics or types of information, which have been published in scientific journals as an open source to the readers across the globe. The motive of publishing all this is sharing of knowledge to reach the maximum of the audience. There is a current trend among readers who prefer to read the content based on facts and evidences in the interest of public knowledge domain. The columns published on daily basis in various dailies have a lot of content on various social sector aspects. In a place like Kashmir where there are limited resources for knowledge sharing platforms, limited internet connectivity and other factors, it is mandatory for every person who claims to be educationist/scholar/author/writer/poet and freelance writer to highlight the issues which are being given least importance even though need for the same is required in the society. General audiences who have habit of reading newspapers early in the morning with their breakfast prefer op-eds/opinions/viewpoints/scientific information from newspaper rather than searching for scientific journals.
I have recently started writing columns in various newspapers after an incident and controversial statements from some association regarding the subject in which I have post graduate degree. The motive of writing articles is awareness and maximum public outreach for knowledge and information, so that food science which being ignored and paid least interest especially in place like Kashmir gets limelight. Various initiatives have been taken in past by student associations from several years in Jammu and Kashmir to get recognition in Academics, Governmental setups who have broader scope for ensuring food safety and public health. This article revolves round my personal experience which I have come across recently from one of my well-wishers/friend/audience pointing out so many things on my credibility, posing me as fraudster, copy-paste, and list goes on which I cannot express here. His intentions were clearly visible to all the participants and sounded nothing less than slurs. Let’s analyse the difference between a “Newspaper article” and a “Scientific journal” with main focus on Newspaper articles:
An editorial or an opinion is a regular work published in newspapers, magazines, or any of publications, visibility being that of daily, weekly, fortnightly, and/ monthly, may contain writer’s personal opinions or viewpoints, usually in newspapers with daily flow of writers sending their content for getting published with an aim to get acknowledgement, appraisal, and sometimes monetary benefits. It is pertinent to mention here that newspapers are very serious about their ethics and policies before sending an article or a write-up, the policies of newspapers clearly mention the vital issues surrounding it like word limit, content of utmost importance in the interest of public, and other such sensitive requirements. I’m reminded of a publishing policy by reputed newspaper which says, “Not All content will be published”. The content based on important issues with focus on trending topics in society is a treat for editors to publish. A space is generally reserved for the writers in the Editorial/Opinion/Viewpoint, where author tries to express either his personal opinions/views or tries to pass on the information which is compilation of a literature review and facts from the works of international organizations/individuals with a due credit to its original publisher for which a particular title or subject appears. Writing a column gives an opportunity to young and innovative writers who intend to take up writing as a career especially in a place like Kashmir to either give his/her opinion freely or share the important information in the form of literature review provided, that topic is of the utmost importance and should come in public domain, it should also not harm any organization/individual. A person irrespective of his background is free to write a column and has no restrictions involved in writing/expressing whatever the observation, experience, and knowledge he/she has about the particular topic. A writer has to be mentally ready for accepting constructive/destructive criticism resulting into likes and dislikes for him to witness. A person who takes initiatives to write on subject matter must be having an experience and the prerequisite skills to present and compile primary/secondary data, and express it in the form of story, thereby fulfilling the criteria of giving information to his audience in better understandable way. Writers showcase their in-depth knowledge of the subject they possesses. In order to compile an article on a particular subject matter, certain information about the same has to be used for which writer tries to either refer to the review literature already available on the internet (which is the case with 95% of the articles published), or if he fails to find the particular information, he is left with no option but to consult a person of the particular field or community. The audience is free to accept or reject the views/opinions/general information published!
According to the definition by Thomas G Carpenter Library, “Article can be much shorter than a book; an article can be as short as a paragraph or two or as long as several dozen pages. Articles can be compiled on any of the topics that the author decides to explore and can reflect opinion, news, research, reviews, instruction, nearly any focus”. Articles usually are part of newspapers, magazines, trade publications, Research journals, and even in Academic books. Because of their relative brevity, articles typically are used to provide up-to-date information in public domain on a wide variety of topics. Article based on literature review consists of a survey of previously published or non-published materials that focus on a particular subject, the sole intention of the review article is to identify and express, what is already known about the particular topic so as to provide a general information and knowledge. According to Georgia State University Library, Newspaper/Magazine Articles written are meant for a general audience, and are free of technical word/language, easy to understand for common people. News articles are written by professional journalists/freelancers/subject-experts, who may or may not have special knowledge of the topic, the author’s name may or may not be listed, followed by editing by journalists who may or may not have specialized knowledge of the topics of articles. Newspaper articles are not reviewed by subject specialists and do not have a specific format or structure. It surely does not contain a bibliography of the original authors or footnotes!
The same source mentioned above states, “Articles in Scientific/scholarly journals are written by professionals in a particular field meant for research scholars. The language of the articles will often contain special or technical words that are used by a scholar of a particular profession that other common people do not understand. Authors are usually experts in a given field and are required to mention credentials and affiliation with the working institute. They are edited by an editorial board consisting of experts in the field. The names, institutional affiliations and credentials of the editorial board are listed within the front of every issue and are subjected to some sort of peer review by outside experts within topic covered by the article before being accepted for publication, may be returned to the authors for revising of content before being accepted. Research based articles, especially in science/health-based journals may contain the various sections viz abstract, literature review, methodology, results and conclusions. Articles contain a bibliography of works cited and footnotes documenting the research.
Opinion – Education System in India
It is apposite to mention here that just because an article has the word “journal” attached to it in the title, does not mean that it’s a scholarly one! On the other hand, many scholarly journal titles do not contain the word “journal” at the first place, the two being different things with wide understanding. A writer may not be expected to be sound with perfection, chances being that s/he may compile and/ publish the work and information from the known sources of information i.e. Internet, books, magazines etcetera thereby leading to similarities with some other published works which does not mean copying anyone’s content to harm or plagiarize, but effective utilization of available information and research in the interest of general audience for knowledge purposes, not to demean the menace of plagiarism that is out there like anything! Unfortunately, there is no such system for newspaper columns wherein we can mention and cite the original authors line by line in prescribed formats. The information in the articles, which a reader often witnesses, can turn out to be false because of the fact that different sources are involved to compile, and bring information to the public domain. Writer or columnist can express his opinions on the basis of his experience and literature review, which too can be contested. In general columnists try only to express their experiences with the intent to go in the right direction for the larger good of the audience aimed at!
To conclude I’d suggest that I’m the last person to address the personal slurs and defamations thereof, but this is to clear a bit of haze off the eyes swindling out in literary world acting “scholars” and “well-wishers” while in-fact being no less than thugs and rogues to derail the caravan meant for explorations of skies and deep dungeons!