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Thursday, July 26, 2012

I need a shot of ExpressO.

Am I the only one who missed this announcement from the California Law Review that it is forsaking ExpressO and only accepting submissions through email and Scholastica? Am I the only one who missed the fact that Scholastica exists? This is particularly embarrassing, given that my own law review apparently accepts submissions through the site.

So, what do you make of this? Is it going to replace ExpressO? (The $5/submission price tag seems a bit high.) Or is it just another way (along with special submission procedures through their own sites)  for top law reviews to make it a little less easy to submit?

Posted by Jessie Hill on July 26, 2012 at 07:50 PM | Permalink


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Scholastica is a proprietary third-party integrated journal publishing platform. The $5 price tag goes to the company (just like ExpressO's $1 per submission goes to Bepress). Like many other proprietary third-party publishing platforms, it has a free open source rival that offers equivalent (and arguably better) functionality. The rival is the Open Journal Systems (OJS) project. Website and information here. http://pkp.sfu.ca/?q=ojs

The choice is for journals (and their host institutions) to make, not for authors to make. Part of the choosing is knowing about the alternatives (many institutions, particularly law schools and student law review editors, likely are aware of the alternatives), and understanding the consequences. For that $5 per submission that journals pass on to their authors, Scholastica takes care of all of the technical details: code maintenance, hosting, etc. The OJS code gets distributed to the institution or the journal, which has to manage and maintain it locally, and find its own hosting solution. That's not cheap. In lean budget times, particularly for institutions that face resource scarcity in the best of times, outsourcing academic publishing to a one-stop shop and financing the decision with user resources will make a lot of sense.

Of course, it also makes sense for Scholastica to go after elite institutions (where resources are less likely to be scarce) as its first clients. The competition here focuses not only on price and service, but as with so many things in academe, also on reputation and prestige.

Posted by: Mike Madison | Aug 3, 2012 12:58:34 PM


This sounds like a great idea. It's easy to understand why law reviews would be interested in a more complete software package.

Posted by: AnonProf | Jul 27, 2012 2:32:51 PM

If this continues we'll see a company called SubmitAll: Send them your article, cover letter, and CV, and they figure out the best way to submit to each law journal (email, ExpressO, Scholastica, ride it in on a pony, whatever) and then take care of it for you.

Posted by: Sarah L. | Jul 27, 2012 1:28:06 PM

This is a small dilemma for antitrust profs; ExpressO was founded not only be Cal profs but by antitrust profs, and, as an antitrust prof myself I'm friends and a great admirer of one of them (don't know the others). It's a dilemma because antitrust profs are supposed to love competition, right? Sadly like other great loves in life this one is washed in ironies.

As for the $5 price tag, here's a guess educated by a rough and general confidence in markets. If Scholastica can generate some volume and enjoy some learning-by-doing efficiencies, its price (and presumably ExpressO's as well, in response) should come down.

This seems to me to promise some very interesting real-life evidence of how eCommerce competition actually works. (Though again I'm a little torn for personal reasons.) We're hearing a lot just now that it's special and new and very different than old fashioned markets. This will be interesting.

Posted by: Chris Sagers | Jul 27, 2012 10:49:38 AM

But ExpressO was founded by two UC Berkeley profs! And Cal is the first journal to adopt this new service? Hmmmmm. . . .

Posted by: Matt Bodie | Jul 27, 2012 8:30:15 AM

Ah, the joys of two-sided markets.

Posted by: James Grimmelmann | Jul 26, 2012 11:01:29 PM

I'm one of the founders of Scholastica (and a grad student), and I wanted to explain a little more about the platform.

Scholastica provides powerful software that goes beyond ExpressO's submission/distribution service, all at no additional charge to the journal – so journals of all sizes/rankings can easily have software to make the start-to-finish journal management process easier.

Journals using Scholastica get more than just article submission; they get an entire platform for efficiently running their journal, from submissions to reviews to decisions to copyediting to publishing – again, at no charge to the journal. We also give law reviews flexibility to be part of the standard law review submission pool or they can operate as a standalone single/double blind peer reviewed journal. They can also publish open-access content online with just a few clicks.

We're trying to improve scholarly publishing, and we'd love feedback any authors have as the submission cycle ramps up, including on the submission fee waivers we offer authors experiencing economic hardship. We add new features all the time, so let us know what would make your lives as scholars better and we'll do our best to add those features to the system.

Posted by: Brian Cody | Jul 26, 2012 9:18:43 PM

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