Is ExpressO Winning the War Against Chaos?
Over the last few article submission cycles, law professors have become accustomed to submitting articles through ExpressO. But it’s become clear that a battle has erupted between the centralizing forces of ExpressO and the top law reviews, which increasingly want authors to submit electronically through their individual webpages. This fight threatens to ruin the utility of ExpressO, and not incidentally make the process almost as inconvenient as it was when authors sent out dozens (or scores) of mail-merged letters.
A colleague points out that ExpressO is offering a new service for journals: LawKit. LawKit is a database management system that allows the reviews to manage the submission and editing process. But the most promising part of the system, it seems to me, is that it may have been designed to bring defecting law reviews back into the fold. According to the website, reviews can get articles onto LawKit in one of three ways:
1. through a web submission form accessible from your law review’s web site; 2. through ExpressO; or 3. an editor can upload a paper on the author’s behalf.
Regardless of the method used, the submitted articles all end up in the same place (the pending submissions queue in the Submission Management screens).
That is, if a review decides to use adopt the LawKit management system, it gets hooked back into the ExpressO submission service. It may be that it is LawKit that has encouraged a top journals like Georgetown, which had moved away from Expresso, to change its mind.
I endorse ExpressO and I wish it success in centralizing this process. There is no good reason for 100 different journals to require authors to submit on 100 different web pages. Of course, down the road, I hope that ExpressO plans to add more functionality for authors. For example, wouldn’t it be useful if the system could track when journals start making offers, what percentages of their books are full, etc.? Blogs can’t do everything, after all. It would also be useful were the entire process of submission to be open (but name-blind) so that we could get better data on the purported letterhead bias and the unravelling law review market theory.