Guidelines for Academic Staff Essay Competition


The overarching objective of the Academic Staff Essay Competition is to promote research and writing skills of research fellows below RF1 with the aim of ensuring that they acquire the necessary skills and experience required for contemporary academic writing and thinking in line with the core mandate of the Institute.

The secondary objectives of the essay competition are:

(i)                 To enable junior research fellows to key into the philosophy of  “publish and “flourish” which is the bedrock of all excellent institutions of higher learning and research, and

(ii)               To reward the junior research fellows whose essays are assessed as the best in the competition.


Participation in the essay competition is restricted to all Assistant Research Fellows and Research Fellow II. It is these categories of academic staff that the term “junior research fellow” used in these Academic Staff Essay Competition Guidelines refers to.

 Area of Research for Essay Competition

The Director General will signify to the Secretariat of the Competition the topic or subject matter the purpose of the annual essay competition


(i)                 The author of the essay adjudged as the overall best will be sponsored by the Institute to participate in a suitable international conference or workshop.

(ii)               The author of the essay adjudged as the second best will be sponsored by the Institute to attend the Annual NALT Conference.

(iii)             The author of the essay adjudged as the third best will receive a cash prize of N50,000.00

The first, second and third entries will be considered for publication in the Nigerian Current Law Review or any other journal of the Institute.

Frequency of the Essay Competition

The essay competition shall be an annual academic activity of the Institute. Call for submissions will be made not later than February while the actual submission of essays will be on or before the 30th of May. The winning entries will be announced by June 30th

Rules on Submission of Essays

  • Essays submitted for the academic staff essay competition must not have been submitted for publication in any academic journal or social media.
  • The footnote references should be OSCOLA, double spaced, 12 theme fonts seize in Times New Roman for the body of the essay and 10-point single spaced for footnotes.  Character spacing must be set to normal. All essays must be on letter size paper (8.5 x 11 inches/21.59 x 27.94 cm) with 1 inch (2.54 cm) margins all around.
  • The essay should not exceed 3,000 words, including quoted matter and citation.  Footnotes are not part of the words count.
  • Only one submission will be accepted per applicant.
  • By submitting an entry to the contest, each entrant gives NIALS all rights, including copyright, to the entry and express permission to edit and publish the entry in all media without limitation and without any other notice.
  • Entrants should submit their essays to the Secretariat of the Competition c/o Office of the Director General by e.mail – The essay must be submitted by e-mail only. No entry will be accepted if submitted by any other means.
  • Entrants should not include their names or any other personal/contact information on the essay itself
  • The Secretariat shall acknowledge all entries via e-mail within 2 days of receipt.
  • The Institute reserves the right not to give the Award to any of the applicants in the event that the submitted articles do not in the opinion of the Panel meet the minimum requirement of a pass mark of 50 points

The Panel of Judges

The Director-General shall constitute a three Member Panel of Judges to assess the essays submitted for the competition. Members of the Panel of Judges shall not normally be below the designation of a Senior Research Fellow.

Assessment Criteria

In assessing the essays the Panel of Judges shall take the followings factors into consideration

  1. Originality/creativity/novelty             –                                                     15
  2. Current relevance                               –                                                     10

iii.                Analytical skills                                  –                                                     30

  1. Structure                                             –                                                     15
  2. Adherence to topic                             –                                                     10
  3. Grammar                                             –                                                     10

vii.              Prospect of developing work into an institutional project.           –           5

viii.            Any other consideration                     –                                         max of 5 points

Where exceptionally there is need for an entry to be assessed by a person other than a member of the Panel, members shall by consensus nominate a person not below the status of a Senior Lecturer and confine the assessment to the first three criteria above.


The Panel of Judges shall determine the ranking of the essays in the first, second and third positions based on the aggregate of scores entered by each member of the panel. A candidate who scores less than 50 points shall not be considered for an award in this competition. The decision of the Panel is final and the Institute will not entertain appeals from the Panels decision. Winning entries will be announced on or before 30th June of each year of the competition.

Secretariat of the Panel

The Office of the Director-General shall be the Secretariat of the Competition. The DG shall appoint a suitable staff as the Secretary of the Panel of Judges. The Secretary of the Panel is ineligible to participate in the competition and shall not be involved in the decision making of the Panel.


Under no circumstances must the Secretary disclose before the announcement of the results, the identity of the author of any of the entries to members of the Panel of Judges or any other staff of the Institute.


The articles submitted for the Award shall undergo a thorough review for plagiarism and shall be disqualified if any evidence of plagiarism is found. Disqualification of any essay on ground of plagiarism does not stop further disciplinary action by the Institute.