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Thursday, May 05, 2011

Will There Be a Fall Submission Season?: A Theory, Some Data, and a Survey for Editors

It often seems to me that as the summer winds turn cool, so too do the shoulders of law review editors.  Or, less poetically, I've never had much luck with the fall submission season.  In the last two seasons, in particular, based on my own experiences and those of other folks I've talked to, it's been hard even to get any sign of life at all in the fall -- no "confirmation of receipt," no nuthin'. 

My theory is that the submission cycle is unraveling backwards into the spring.  As Expresso drives up spring submission volume, journals accept more spring pieces, leading to more competition in the fall, leading frustrated authors (e.g., me) to push to get work out in the spring, leading to...etc.  And, indeed, consistent with that theory, editors at several good journals have told me that this spring saw the largest seasonal volume of submissions ever.

Not content with my intuition, I did some investigative "journalism" and e-mailed the folks at Expresso.  They did a study on submission patterns back in 2006, and it's full of interesting stuff.  The headline for our purposes here is their finding that 44% of all submissions are in the Spring, 37% in the Fall.  And "those percentages from 2006 are close to what you might expect today," they tell me.  But volume has increased steadily each year in all seasons.     

I don't see these numbers as clearly confirming or disproving my theory.  We don't know what portion of articles are accepted in each season, so steady submission numbers tell us only that authors aren't shifting their behavior.  (Though it's possible that authors most likely to be accepted--not me, clearly--do shift...) It's also possible the overall volume increase is leading to fewer fall slots. Expedites & w/d's by season would help, but Expresso doesn't compile that data.  

So, in short, we need your help, law review editors!  If you have a minute, or if you don't but you're procrastinating, take our very short survey on your fall submission season availability by clicking here.  

Posted by BDG on May 5, 2011 at 08:47 AM in Law Review Review | Permalink


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@Orly: Hey, it's only been up for 9 hours! I'll post the results when we have enough to be interesting; it's exam season, so perhaps we'll have to re-poll in a few weeks.

Posted by: BDG | May 5, 2011 6:06:21 PM

survey results?

Posted by: orly lobel | May 5, 2011 5:55:33 PM

This survey could be really valuable. Thank you for doing it. My anecdotal sense is that the two windows have moved further out of parity during my relatively brief time in this business. (I can see why individual rational decisions could lead to that result, but it seems bad from a system-wide point of view.) But real evidence would be great.

Posted by: Aaron Bruhl | May 5, 2011 10:24:14 AM

Maybe so. But see http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/2006/02/the_unraveling.html (check out the date).

Posted by: dave hoffman | May 5, 2011 9:59:48 AM

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