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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What Do People Submitting to Law Reviews Want?

From time to time, PrawfsBlawg threads have included thoughts about what those submitting to law reviews want from law reviews. (For example, to receive rejections, rather than just no response at all.) Now that we're getting into the thick of law review submission season, I'm curious whether people have thoughts about what they'd like from Scholastica, Expresso, and other future tools used to submit to law reviews. ("Free submissions" is definitely one thing -- and a valid thing -- other thoughts also very much welcomed....)

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on February 16, 2016 at 12:48 PM in Law Review Review | Permalink


i'd like the ability to replace a submitted article (or cover letter or other supporting document) with a revised version if no one on the receiving end has touched it yet, i.e. it hasn't been accessed or downloaded but is just sitting in an inbox. seems like something scholastica could implement, depending on how things work on the journal's end.

Posted by: xoxo, gossip girl | Feb 26, 2016 9:58:54 AM

What anonprof said - no stealth rejections.
Also, to make it impossible for a journal not to make decisions. For example: not to allow a journal to hold more than a certain number of submissions "under review" (say, not more than 50% of all submissions in the past two weeks?). If the threshold is reached, the system automatically shuts down submissions to the journal until they make enough decisions to go back below the threshold.

Posted by: Onion | Feb 23, 2016 11:12:31 PM

To stop getting saccharine "We enjoyed your article" form letters. If you really enjoyed it, if it really came close, send me an email. Otherwise, just the standard "Thanks, but no thanks" will do. Rejection sucks. The only thing that sucks worse is a disingenuous rejection full of BS. Yes, you enjoyed my article so much that you rejected it with a form letter.

Posted by: YesterdayIKilledAMammoth | Feb 22, 2016 10:48:36 PM


Posted by: captainobvious | Feb 21, 2016 10:56:30 AM

I want Scholastica to make stealth rejections impossible. Just automatically generate an email whenever a rejection is added.

Posted by: AnonProf | Feb 21, 2016 9:38:29 AM

I understand the "echo chamber" critique of peer review (I've strategized around it when publishing with peer review journals) but I guess I don't understand why law reviews are better on this point. It's as likely that law student editors have strong political leanings as it is that peer reviewers have strong political leanings. If anything, law students are more likely to be unaware of their own biases--and even when they're aware of their own biases and make good faith attempts to avoid indulging them (which they mostly do, I think) they are generally and understandably less aware of biases in the field/subfield because they don't have the expertise.

This isn't meant as a ringing endorsement of peer review; I'm just suggesting that the "echo chamber" problem doesn't obviously point one way or another.

Posted by: So&So | Feb 20, 2016 12:58:11 PM

The danger with peer review is that it may exile unpopular views to Siberia. I have no confidence personally that conservative and libertarian perspectives (particularly outside the fields of constitutional law, federal courts, and administrative law) receive even a fig leaf of respect in the fields in question, even if well researched, well analyzed, and respected by intellectuals outside the academy. Sometimes people are grudgingly respected, sometimes they are acknowledged for purposes of debate or disagreement, but at least some of the time silence - exile - results. Peer review risks institutionalizing that. On the other hand, it might be possible to structure peer review to not only avoid that but correct for it, to the extent that it also infects second year law student decision-making.

Conservative/libertarian perspectives now, something else disfavored twenty years ago or twenty years from now. The point is that if peers make judgment calls, it is extremely important to ensure that they are not -- subconsciously or consciously -- creating an echo chamber.

Posted by: minority report | Feb 20, 2016 11:36:34 AM

What James said. Excellent idea!

Posted by: Lee Fennell | Feb 19, 2016 4:18:34 PM

You do not want "just like every other field in academia does." Because I exist in both worlds, I say this from experience. Journals in "other fields" are notorious for not responding for a year ... 18 months. Each of you would be up in arms if you were unable to do ANYTHING with your article as you waited ... and waited ... and waited.

Posted by: Anon | Feb 17, 2016 1:39:28 PM

Looking at these complaints you'd think that submitters wanted legal academia to work like academia in other disciplines.

Peer review?
Continuous submission?
One submission at a time?

Ah, to dream.

Posted by: Average Joe | Feb 17, 2016 11:46:16 AM

I want the journals to NOT accept submissions on Scholastica and/or ExpressO until they're ready to review them. I've followed up with three different journals as to a request for expedited review, each of whom told me they aren't even looking at the articles yet, but just letting them pile up in their inbox.

Posted by: AnonProf | Feb 16, 2016 10:46:00 PM

aren't people describing lex opus? i think it also limited the number of submissions out at one time, and each rejection freed up a slot for another submission. http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2009/05/lex-opus-free-online-submission-of-your-law-review-articles-.html

Posted by: xoxo, gossip girl | Feb 16, 2016 10:32:37 PM

How about submitting to just one journal at a time just like every other field in academia does?

Posted by: outsider | Feb 16, 2016 4:31:32 PM

In addition to peer review, a system that selected articles throughout the year. This one shot in March is totally absurd, particularly since students know the least at that point because they have read very few law reviews. It was not that long ago when law reviews accepted and chose submissions across a much broader time frame.

Posted by: MLS | Feb 16, 2016 3:40:12 PM

Peer review

Posted by: xfer | Feb 16, 2016 3:34:07 PM

I second James's suggestion as offered.

The next step would be working toward a norm in favor of checking that box. That way, people will look to the work itself, rather than using placement as a highly imprecise proxy for quality.

Posted by: Jeff Pojanowski | Feb 16, 2016 2:08:25 PM

I would like a system that limits the number of submissions an author can make (say, 10-20 in total; with two platforms, then some proportionate number for each), but that allows the author to add an additional submission after each rejection. When coupled with James's suggestion (especially if it were made mandatory), it would rid the system of a lot of abuse by authors and make the editors' jobs more manageable.

Posted by: Mark Fenster | Feb 16, 2016 1:53:46 PM

I'd expand on James' proposal: I'd like to be able to rank journals according to preference of where I'd like to publish. Journals should be able to see the author's rank of their journal so they can look at higher ranking papers first. If an offer is made by a journal, the paper is automatically withdrawn from all lower ranked journals, and expedite is only available for the higher ranked journals. If the top ranked journal makes the offer, then the offer is accepted.
Also, I see no reason not to have the spreadsheet started by Sarah generated automatically in real time by Scholastica/Expresso, with the benefit that ALL relevant information will be included (as long as anonymity is maintained).

Posted by: Anon | Feb 16, 2016 1:21:24 PM

I would like a box an author could choose to check, saying "I will accept the first offer received." If a law review took an article whose author had checked the box, the platform would automatically withdraw it from every other law review it had been submitted to through the platform. This would let authors credibly commit not to play the expedite game, signaling that they aren't interested in wasting law reviews' time.

Posted by: James Grimmelmann | Feb 16, 2016 12:58:25 PM

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