Law Review Article Selection: An Empirical Study

Leah Christensen (St. Thomas School of Law, MN) and Julie Oseid (St. Thomas, St. Thomas School of Law, MN) have posted on SSRN an article entitled Navigating the Law Review Article Selection Process: an Empirical Study of Those With All the Power—Student Editors. From the article:

The present study examines how law review editors at all levels of the law school “tier” system (e.g., Top 15, Top 25, Top 50, Top 100, Third Tier, Fourth Tier and Specialty Journals)13 weigh the importance of author credentials, topic, format, and timing of an article submission in making their selection decisions.

The study was based on a survey sent to student law review editors:

A qualitative survey methodology was adopted in order to access a large number of student editors, and to enable the editors’ responses to be compared across different groups and/or law school tiers. A 10 page self-completion survey was designed focusing on the following factors: author credentials; topic; title; star footnote; cover letter; reserved space; article format; timing of submission; review process; law review culture; “trading up;” and the “biggest surprise” about selecting articles for your journal. We left space for the editors to comment specifically about any one of the factors if they had additional information to provide.

The results:

Although the study found that most editors consider each of these factors to some degree, the data also suggests that the higher-ranked journals rely more heavily on author credentials than lower-ranked journals. Specifically, editors at higher-tiered law schools were highly influenced by where an author has previously published. Further, while not a single editor at a Top 15 school considered an author’s practice experience in making a publication decision, a majority of the editors at lower-tiered journals rated practice experience as an important factor in article selection. In addition, the study participants almost unanimously agreed that they were influenced by the topic of an article yet there were important differences among the law schools concerning the actual topics about which they would be most or least likely to publish.

One part of the article contains a week-by-week tally of number of article submissions to a Top 25 journal over the course of a year. The heaviest period of submissions was between February 20 and April 2 (the so-called “spring window”), with the busiest week being March 6-12, with 235 submissions. June and July were the slowest months. The fall window numbers were heaviest from August 7 to September 10, but the volume of submissions was not quite as high as the spring window — though it was not too much lower. Overall the journal received 2,219 submissions.

The article is filled with some very interesting data. It is definitely worth checking out.

You may also like...