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Monday, January 25, 2010

Reports of our demise are greatly exaggerated

Heather Gerkin Gerken (thanks, Paul) argues that sites such as JOTWELL are harbingers of the demise of student-edited journals (other than the top-tier journals), because they no longer are needed, given the increase in alternative places to publish.

I am not convinced. JOTWELL is a great site and a great idea, taking the article-sifting-and-aggregating process (done best by Larry Solum, as well as the individual lawprofessors network blogs) to the next level. But JOTWELL depends on articles already finding homes elsewhere, namely in student-edited journals; it does not displace journals, but publicizes them. It does not represent a new publishing forum.

So what else is there? Heather points out that there are not enough peer-edited reviews to fully displace the current regime. SSRN (and BePress, less widely) certainly offer a way to get ideas out there. But no one (yet) considers an SSRN-uploaded piece to have been "published," so as an author, I still need to find it a home--in a student-edited journal. On-line law review supplements are great new publishing forums (with much better turn-around times), although for different type of scholarship.

Is there some other publication forum that I am missing that supports Heather's argument?

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 25, 2010 at 04:01 PM in Howard Wasserman, Life of Law Schools, Teaching Law | Permalink


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I think she's saying that websites like JOTWELL and Solum's Legal Theory can grant "publiation status" to papers on SSRN, so actual publication in a student-edited journal will no longer be necessary, and would in fact be inferior due to less reliable screening methods. (Of course, as you note, this would require a huge institutional change among tenure-and-promotion committees, who are just started to understand that refereed electronic journals are legitimate.)

Posted by: Mark D. White | Jan 26, 2010 6:37:06 AM

Gerken! A Gerkin is a pickle that's missing an "h."

Posted by: Paul Horwitz | Jan 25, 2010 9:56:02 PM

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