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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Introducing the Law Review Review

As Dan previewed last week, Prawfs is officially launching today a new feature, the “Law Review Review.”  Our goal is to provide an ongoing space for discussion, description, and evaluation of the process for transmitting scholarly legal ideas.  Mostly, of course, that process involves law reviews, and mostly those are of the student-edited variety.  But we hope in time to discuss other outlets.      

So, for example, some of the posts you can expect to see soon include interviews with journal editors, more content from Chad Oldfather’s awesome dataset of law review publications, and a lengthy soft-focus feature on Redyip, harbinger of law review season.  (Note: all promised content subject to Redyip availability and other factors; see our ad in Men's Health for more details.)  Chad & I will do some quantitative analysis of his data, including (we hope) an examination of the effect of blind review on journal decisions.  If you miss one, you’ll be able to find all our posts by clicking on the “law review review” link on the left-hand side of your screen (scroll down; it's under "categories"). 

Much of the success of the project will depend on thoughts and contributions from you -- so by all means write to us.  We have a dedicated e-mail, lawreviewreview [at] gmail.  Suggestions and questions are welcome.          

And now, since we are law professors, after the jump, some existential questions.

Some might ask whether the study of the law review process merits any time or attention.  Even if so, the law professor blogotariat already has no shortage of commentary about ourselves and our own work.  Much of it must surely be tedious to that portion of our readers who are not as fascinated by us as are we.   Why, then, do we budget more time in front of the mirror?

Speaking only for myself on this front, my answer is that the instruments for scholarly communication are important.  The academy is an institution, and institutions benefit from reflective self-governance guided by data.  So I’m hoping to contribute at least incrementally to both the process of reflection and also to the data.    

Here is my hope and plan for what we won’t do.  We won’t complain about our own personal sorrows with the review process solely for the sake of bemoaning them.  (I do that at lunch every day, so I hardly need to do it on a blog…) We won’t single out editors or boards for criticism because we didn’t like what they did with our commas.  And we certainly won’t gratuitously link to other blogs just to get them to notice us.  (We also will try not to take ourselves too seriously.)

Oh, and, who am I?   I’m Galle -- you might remember me from such blogging hits as “Unemployment Insurance -- Less Boring Than You Think” (0 comments) and “Taxes -- No, Really, They’re Fun” (also, um, 0 comments).   I’m around to check the inbox and crunch the occasional number.  But you’ll see content from lots of other folks under the LRR banner.          

Posted by BDG on April 28, 2011 at 09:33 AM in Law Review Review | Permalink


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I tend to think of the law review as less a venue of communication than one of certification of quality. It might be interesting to compare their performance to:

--credit rating agencies (CRAs were paid cash by entities to rate the entities' instruments; perhaps journals are paid prestige by very notable profs to evaluate their articles?)

--crowdsourced peer review

--post-publication peer review

--Jotwell-style citations of excellence

--university press evaluation processes (cf. Jacqui Lipton's interesting post on this at FL)

--download counts (especially if these can be gamed at some period of time by automated software, and the system fails to subtract robo-downloads from overall downloads)

--hits/visits on webpages

--tenure review


--Google ranking

Posted by: Frank Pasquale | Apr 28, 2011 8:31:10 PM

Can/will you define the universe of inquiry a bit more --- e.g., are you just looking at main journals at top __ (10? 50? 100?) schools? are you going to discuss (student-edited) specialty journals? Peer-reviewed journals? On-line journals and/or the many on-line companion journal locales? Websites/blogs that spotlight scholarship in journal and/or SSRN?

I know that's a lot of questions, but be happy I am not inquiring as to whether you considered and/or why you rejected the alternative names of the Law Journal Review or the Law Review Journal or, dare I suggest, the Law Journal Journal?

Posted by: Doug B. | Apr 28, 2011 6:16:31 PM

Many thanks to Brian for kicking this off -- I think it will be a great resource for prawfs and future prawfs who are looking to place in reviews.

Posted by: Matt Bodie | Apr 28, 2011 5:30:29 PM


Posted by: Matt Bodie | Apr 28, 2011 2:37:47 PM

My advice re Redyip: Don't make him mad. I don't think you'd like him when he's mad.

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Apr 28, 2011 1:39:45 PM

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