Does Pre-Publishing on SSRN Promote or Reduce the Chances of Law Review Acceptance?

Dave Hoffman

Dave Hoffman is the Murray Shusterman Professor of Transactional and Business Law at Temple Law School. He specializes in law and psychology, contracts, and quantitative analysis of civil procedure. He currently teaches contracts, civil procedure, corporations, and law and economics.

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7 Responses

  1. FWIW, I posted a draft of a short piece on SSRN last fall and was contacted by the (faculty) editor of the journal that is now publishing a re-vamped version of it.

    On the poll, I checked the second option (post in the same form as submitted to law reviews) but am considering moving towards posting earlier drafts.

  2. eric says:

    For the anecdote hopper, from someone who certainly qualifies as a “lower-ranked” professor (1st year faculty member at a new law school) — I posted a piece on SSRN shortly before sending it out earlier this year. I got multiple publication offers, and the article will be published in a very respectable law review.

    Doffing my law faculty cap and donning my sociologist’s hat, I’d think this would be a simple enough subject for empirical investigation.

  3. Ethan Leib says:

    I actually have a more complicated practice: when I write in an area that I think will garner modest download counts, I don’t post it ahead of time for fear that low download counts will convey to law review editors — whether rightly or wrongly — that there isn’t much interest in my scholarship. By contrast, when I write in an area in which I anticipate more substantial downloads (from blogospheric influence), I assume high download counts will convey — again, whether rightly or wrongly — that there is an active market for my work.

  4. aka Miguel Sanchez says:

    As the Lead Article Editor at a T20 journal, I will say that if an article is on SSRN and has a lot of downloads, that’s a positive factor in our discussions. Conversely, if it’s been up on SSRN for eight months and has five downloads, we would look a bit askance at that.

  5. anon says:

    There’s another choice not listed. Some people have taken to posting a draft before acceptance and then posting separately the final version either right before or after publication (as opposed to replacing the draft with the final version). By posting the final version as a new post, the paper goes out on the e-mail subject matter journals from SSRN a second time and accomplishes three things: (1) signaling that this is a new version for those who downloaded the prior version, (2) signaling that the paper has been accepted (and by a good journal), and (3) maximizing downloads because the same paper is effectively downloaded twice. While the third prong of the strategy seems silly, it’s hard to advocate prohibiting it because it does get the paper out early (as SSRN is supposed to do), while also making sure people know the final version is now available. A lot of drafts end up being the only version anyone ever sees because they don’t bother to look for the published version.

  6. AE says:

    To throw another wrinkle in there — we are increasingly considering the possibility that download totals can be “gamed” (“Dear 150-person Con Law class, download this article; it may be on the exam.”). But a low download total would still presumably hurt you, consistent with Ethan’s idea.

  7. Dylan Steinberg says:

    For what it’s worth, our study of criteria applied by law reviews found that a strong reception on SSRN was a minor but positive factor in publication decisions.