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How Student Editors Select Law Review Articles for Publication:
Here's an interesting study on the question, based on a survey of articles editors. A few blogs gave us a preview of the results last year, but now you can read the full draft.
b.:
bottom line for faculty:

if your article is publishable, it WILL be published.

doesn't matter where you teach. doesn't matter how frequently you've published in the past. doesn't matter how bad your footnotes are. doesn't matter the length of your piece.

positive presumptions are rebuttable by poorly drafted manuscripts. negative presumptions are rebuttable by well-crafted pieces.

notably absent from the draft version of the above study was any mention of the influence that "expedite requests" (articles that have been accepted for publication which authors "shop" to more prestigious journals) have on the selection process. the article authors (or other authors) should consider conducting a study to examine more clearly the problems and opportunities created by this unusual practice in order to more fully describe the "universe" of legal publication.
5.26.2007 3:32pm
Esquire:
There are a *few* peer-reviewed law reviews out there that I've noticed, and some more that are at least faculty "advised."

I've encountered a lot of skepticism about whether there is any true "blind" review -- with many saying they'll believe it when those claiming to actually end up publishing some unknowns...
5.26.2007 4:07pm
Bearcat:
I'm an articles editor for a third tier journal and I publish what I can get. Quality is the main consideration, and also how much work it will be for the rest of the staff to clean up.
5.26.2007 4:33pm
Steve Lubet (mail):
The abstract states:

Many commentators have expressed their belief that students are unqualified to determine which articles should be published in which journals, but these discussions have been largely based on anecdotal evidence of how journals make publication decisions. It was against that backdrop that we undertook a national survey of law reviews in an attempt to determine how student editors responsible for making publication decisions went about their task.

Isn't it obviousm, however, that a survey of this sort cannot tell us anything about whether student editors are "unqualified" to make publication decisions. No matter how statistically rigorous, it can only provide analysis of students' self-reported decision making, without saying anything about the actual quality of the decisions.
5.26.2007 4:54pm
Gideon:
I've read the referenced study - very interesting and applicable for me. I'm a nobody (Retired Marine Officer in my last year of law school), but I'm nearly complete with an article on the First Amendment protections of blogging (a topic that the Supreme Court has yet to weigh in on, with the exception of employee blogs and their commentary about their employers).

I attend an accredited, but non-ABA approved law school out of California. The faculty supports my efforts, but with the triple whammy of a no-name school, a nobody author, and the author is still a student, I suspect that we'll have difficulty finding a publisher.

I would be pleased with publication in a 3rd Tier review (Bearcat?), assuming that the article meets the standards for both quality and applicability. I don't think the issue is trendy, per se, but think it is more and more applicable with the growth of online personal commentary sites - the eminent Volokh Conspiracy included. I hope the nearly 10,000 words of my essay aren't too daunting, but that isn't as overwhelming as the tome I produced for my Business Organizations final essay...

We'll see what time and effort bring. Great site, by the way and worth a daily read.
5.27.2007 7:01am
johndoe (mail):
I think that there might be a chicken/egg problem here. Probably need to look at how the journals select editors before you look at how they select articles. I'm guessing the full membership popular vote journals suffer somewhat in this area. Journals that use a screening mechanism (e.g. interviews with senior editors prior to elections) might have better people selecting articles.
5.27.2007 11:00am
billb:
Does the "Do not cite without permission" in the running head strike anyone else as laughable? I mean, I assume Orin didn't get permission to post a link to it which is the best citation I can think of. What are they going to do, wag their fingers at him?

(Please excuse the Sunday afternoon snark, but it's hard to let this sort of IP-sillines slide.)
5.27.2007 6:08pm
Kovarsky (mail):
"do not cite without permission" does not invoke IP law.
5.27.2007 6:40pm
billb:
Kovarsky: Oh, OK, what does it invoke, then? What recourse do the authors have if somebody cites them? What permission do I need to cite them?

Either it invokes IP law or it invokes nothing. If it invokes IP law, then it invokes it incorrectly. If it invokes no law, then it's a sort of virtual land grab which, by sounding authoritative, attempts to assert rights the authors do not have, i.e. it's an attempt appear to be invoking IP law where the authors know or should know that there isn't any.

Either way, it's pretty silly. :)
5.27.2007 7:10pm
frankcross (mail):
What it means is that the article is not final and may change and the authors are not yet so confident of their conclusions as to warrant citing. Of course, it's almost universally ignored.
5.28.2007 11:30am
DCL (mail):
My own experience serving as an editor of the Law Review and also a member of a specialty journal at a Top 25 Law School was enlightening and not in a good way. We published numerous pieces by "name" authors that did not deserve to be published. Why? In a few cases, the law school held a symposium with well-known professors, even paid an honoraria, and received garbage in return. One purported article had a dozen citations in it. That's it. We, the editors, added more than 200 cites, citing to works we can't be sure the author even read simply so that his statements would be properly "sourced." Another article, by a federal judge, was a complete ripoff of an article that he submitted to another journal. I wanted to reject both and was told by our faculty that it was our job to fix these pieces and publish them anyway because of the embarassment that rejecting them would cause the authors and the law school.

As for my own note, I was told by the specialty journal for which I wrote it that it wouldn't be published because I already had published a number of other things in other places prior to and during law school, and I "didn't need the credit." I kid you not. Nothing at all to do with quality of the submissions. So I shopped it out, and it was immediately accepted as an article at another school. Amazing, eh?

But the moral of this story isn't that students are not capable of choosing good articles -- it's that politics and policy, often dictated from above -- play a greater role than most realize in determining what gets selected and why.
5.30.2007 2:51pm