Articles Editors Dos and Don’ts

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8 Responses

  1. Josh Tate says:

    Great post. With regard to (2), if you decide to include the title of the article in a rejection letter, be sure you get it right. I once received an email from a law review rejecting an article within a few hours of my having submitted it. The email garbled the title of the article, despite the claim of having given it “full consideration.” I haven’t submitted to that law review again.

  2. Bridget Crawford says:

    For rejection notifications, perhaps ExpressO could allow journals to check a box indicating that a submission article is out of consideration (i.e., rejected)? Then again, many editors don’t use the built-in features of ExpressO to acknowledge receipt of an article, so asking them to use the system to send rejections (as opposed to remaining silent) may be unrealistic.

  3. The process for rejecting a piece on ExpressO takes something like three clicks of the mouse. It is not difficult. And I don’t know why folks don’t want to do it — ExpressO inboxes get pretty unruly if you don’t clear them out regularly.

  4. anon says:

    I always found it helpful when journals put my article on “hold” to indicate rejection. This allowed me to expedite without having to de-check all kinds of boxes and keep track of where I withdrew the article or had it rejected.

  5. TJ says:

    There seems a bit of tension between number 2 and number 4. The reason people get a three-second rejection is because of a policy of letter-head bias. But in No. 2, you are not saying to law reviews to not give three second rejections. You are saying to not make the three second rejection too obvious lest the unofficial policy becomes known to authors, at which point they will complain loudly about the unfairness of it all. If law reviews collectively make it harder to figure out whether letterhead rejections happen (i.e. if they follow No. 2), there will be less pressure to not do it.

    In other words, I think law professors get a better deal having our collective egos bruised by explicit three second rejections, if we thereby also receive a more accurate picture of how much letterhead bias actually occurs.

  6. MT says:


    Blind review (i.e. no letterheads) results in plenty of so-called “three-second” rejections as well. An article may be about a topic that is already overrepresented in a given volume, or the abstract may reveal that the article’s subject matter is not suited for a law review, or you may be able to tell obvious preemption or other problems from the abstract.

  7. TJ says:

    MT, I’m sure that happens, but I’m sure that happens also very rarely, and the vast majority of three second rejections are letterhead based. A personal anecdote: I had the experience of submitting as someone with no letterhead, where I always received numerous immediate rejections from numerous law reviews. I now have a letterhead, and never receive immediate rejections.

    And if you look at the institutional affiliation of authors published in Harvard, Yale, and Stanford, one can legitimately wonder whether their “blind” review is really blind.

  8. TJ: I don’t think it is as rare as you might expect (you’d be surprised how many articles we got that were on specific state law, or obviously a dressed-up student Comment), but your point is still solid. I think it is simply a question of courtesy. And to the extent law reviews are willing to institutionalize letterhead bias, I think the way to signal that is to be upfront about it (see #1), rather than the more indirect signal of being discourteous to insufficiently pedigreed professors.

    Few law reviews are willing to admit such deliberate bias, of course, but I don’t think law reviews should institute practices that they’re unwilling to stand behind publicly.