Spring 2010: Is the Window Open? (bumped again)

(Bumped again, as there’s some very interesting discussion taking place in comments)

It’s February, March, so let’s ask the regular questions:

1. Has your board turned over? If not, when will it?

2. Details please. Do you want new articles on the day the new board moves in, or would you prefer to get used to the new digs first? Overall, is your journal taking submissions yet; and if not, when will it start?

3. If you have already turned over, are you planning any theme issues that folks ought to consider submitting specialized pieces for?

4. What format do you want pieces in (especially if you are changing your previous policies).

5. Is there anything else that authors should keep in mind as this spring season (gulp) begins?

This thread will be bumped weakly. Err, weekly.

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385 Responses

  1. student says:

    Got an offer yesterday from a Top 20 school’s specialty journal, where I’d be thrilled to publish. Expedited to a bunch of flagship journals, and withdrew from some T3 and T4 flagships and most other specialties.

    Got numerous prompt responses indicating that my expedite request would be accommodated.

  2. Sock Drawer says:

    Ask and ye shall be rejected, I guess. Since my post yesterday I have received rejections from Ohio St., Pitt, Minnesota, and Temple.

  3. student says:

    Rejections rolling in today after my expedite request, but mostly from Top 14 flagships who wouldn’t even think of publishing a (gasp!) student from a different school. Knew I didn’t have any chance there anyway, but hey, a kid can dream.

    Still waiting on a number of journals, hoping to hear before my expedite deadline expires.

  4. Me too says:

    Silence finally breaks with an offer (and immediately following, another rejection). I’m out of the 5th dimension sock pile–yay!

  5. Stillwaiting says:

    Me too, is it your first offer? When did you submit? Do we still have any hope?

  6. Me too says:

    Yes, first offer. I submitted near the beginning of March. And according to what a very helpful articles editor said above, there is certainly still hope. For what it’s worth, last year, I accepted an offer in mid-April with a top-50 journal after considering several offers made in April.

  7. ParanoidProf says:

    I released two offers today at general journals in the 50-60 range.

  8. anon says:

    ParanoidProf: It’s too bad you can’t just release those offers over to me. Congratulations on your placement.

  9. undecided says:

    Looking for a little advice on juggling offers:

    I currently have an offer from the flagship journals at Missouri and Tennessee, and from the Journal of Law and Education. JLE is obviously ranked much lower than the other two, but it has a board with real professors and what I think is a pseudo-peer review process. Missouri’s ranked a little behind Tennessee in USNews rankings (65-59), but it has a higher impact factor. I’m still waiting on on some expedite responses, but I’m not counting on them.

    If my offers stand like this, how should I proceed? FYI I’m in a college of education, where peer reviewed work is the expectation. But my external reviews for tenure will include at least one law prof who can speak to the quality of my publications and their venues. Thanks!

  10. Anon says:

    undecided: I think it depends on what your portfolio of articles is going to look like. If this is one of only a handful of publications you’ll have under your belt when going up for tenture, take the peer reviewed journal. A discipline expecting peer reviewed work may not credit you much for publishing in a student run journal, even if one external review defends its quality.

    However, if you’re going to have a bunch of publications, and want to increase the diversity of your publishing outlets, then I’d be more inclined to publish in a law review. The difference between Missouri and Tennessee probably isn’t significant, although when in doubt I’d go with the higher ranked school via USN&WR.

    Overall, it really depends on the politics in your respective department and college. I’d ask one of your colleagues there before deciding, if possible.

    Just my $.02.

  11. Practitioner says:

    The window apparently remains open. I heard nothing but rejections for a month and then today got a Tier 3 offer and then, probably because of my expedite, got a Top-60 offer later in the day.

  12. Articles Editor says:

    I only have a narrow perspective on this world, but I wanted to jump back in and reassure people that even if some smaller journals have filled their volumes, many top journals have not, and will continue to read through the summer. Though I still agree with inthehunt (#301) that a survey of when the different journals read submissions would be very helpful, so that authors aren’t relying on rumors in the comments from a blog post (especially since the people who stumble upon this post are probably not representative … authors who have an easy time placing their articles would be less likely to look for stuff like this).

  13. ArticlesEditor says:

    As an Articles Editor at a top-10 law review that just shut down for the season, I will try to shed some light on the process. Information, after all, wants to be free. I’ll explain our process and then give some tips.

    We begin screening as soon as the new board turns over in February. The queue is pretty backed up by this point, and we’re just getting our feet wet, so people are cautious about passing things up. I second the previous AE comment that submitting in February reduces your chances of an accept. There are four steps in the screening process:

    1) Initial screen. A random articles editor will spend 5-15 minutes looking at your piece. We’re looking for something that’s interesting, well-written, and well-supported. Since this a quick screen, we’re also checking to see if ideas pass a laugh test, or if they seem fishy. Articles that clearly explain their contribution to their literature are often helpful to figuring out how worthwhile the piece is. At this stage, we are looking for reasons to reject and move on the next piece. Pieces we screen up mean more work for articles editors, so if something smells off, the piece is getting dinged. Nobody wants to be the articles editor who screened something that seems “kind of interesting” and turns out to completely waste the time of the editor who has to give it an editor review.

    2) Editor review. An articles editor who has previously expressed an interest in the topic area will get assigned the piece for review. They have 2-3 days to read the whole piece and determine if they want to accept. We’re looking for the same things here, and still looking for reasons to reject, but this time in more depth. So, if I read a claim in the introduction that I don’t think you can support, I immediately jump to that part and look for support or a lack thereof. If there seems to be little support below the line, I worry our production depart will kill us if we accept. If a piece seems interesting, well-written, etc., I perform a preemption check for novelty. HELP US OUT by placing your article in the literature. I can’t emphasize enough how clearly explaining your contribution goes a long way in the process.

    3) Board review. For a piece passed on from editor review, the journal conducts a board review, normally within a week or so. The EIC, senior articles editor, and 4 (or more) other articles editor all read the piece, basically in the same way as an editor read. Initial votes are taken, people give their initial comments, and then we debate and discuss the piece for an hour. We also give more concern to macro-level issues, e.g. is this a topic we just published about? How many articles have we accepted so far and how is the quality in the queue? We need near unanimity for accept, i.e. if two or more members reject, the piece is rejected.

    4) Acceptance/Rejection. If we accept, we call right away. If we reject, it goes into an espresso folder to go out with form rejections in a couple of weeks.

    Expedites: Unless the expedite is from a top-50 or so journal, it goes through the same process in the queue, conscious of deadlines. If it is from a top-50+ journal, we may send it to editor review right away, followed by an emergency committee read.

    Faculty consult: If our concerns about the piece relate to contribution to the field and novelty, we may consult a faculty member informally to get their sense of how the piece fits in. Again, PLACE YOUR ARTICLE IN THE FIELD.

    General thoughts:
    – As I previously said, we reject more in the beginning of the season. This season, I’d say about halfway through, we began second-guessing ourselves as we had only accepted a few pieces, so we accepted a piece or two that may not have made it in February. Then, as we got closer to April and felt okay about the book, we tightened up again. Also, quality of the queue substantially declined the further into March we get. We do leave spots open for the Fall, but based on institutional memory that Fall submissions are generally worse than Spring, we look to get as much as we can in the spring.

    -Make your submission as professional as possible. Spell check. Don’t forget to accept all changes and delete all comments before uploading to espresso. Don’t submit multiple copies. Avoid stupid little things that can turn off an editor and get your awesome piece dinged in screening.

    – Don’t put your espresso title in all caps; it annoys people.

    -Include an abstract. It’s a great way to make sure your screener has a full sense of the piece quickly.

    -If you’re submitting to a generalist journal, avoid technical jargon. We have nonexperts reading your piece, make sure it is written for (smart, busy) nonexperts to understand.

    -Clear, concise writing goes a long, long way. A piece may get passed up to editor review solely because the author wrote well enough that the screening editor kept their eyes on the page. Trust me, after reading a piece from a foreign academic whose first language is clearly not English, seeing good writing in your piece puts me in a better mood.

    -If this seems like a harsh process, it is. In the course of a week, we generally screen 200 pieces. Maybe 30 of those get editor reads. Maybe 4-6 make it to board review. 1 or 2 will get accepted. We are looking for reasons to reject, so give us reasons not to.

  14. ArticlesEditor says:

    *ExpressO. It’s late

  15. Mark A. Edwards says:

    That was amazingly helpful. I’m putting it on the wall of my office.

  16. Another Editor says:

    The process at my journal (also Top 10) is pretty similar, and that’s definitely good advice. I strongly second all of those suggestions about paying attention to details (spell-check the cover letter, delete comments, etc.) With so many articles, so few slots, and the ability to be extremely selective, a quick and moderately accurate proxy for quality like that may be too tempting for some screening editors to pass up. Don’t risk it.

    One other suggestion I’d add: Pay attention to word limits. If I see a submission 2,000 words above our limit, I’m going to be somewhat more critical at the screening stage. If I see a submission 10,000 words above our limit, there’s almost no chance I’ll let it past screening. Production would kill me for even letting it get that far. Not that an article like that will never be considered, but there had better be an extremely good explanation for the length in the cover letter.

  17. Articles Editor says:

    Being from a different Top 10 journal from ArticlesEditor and Another Editor, I’ll echo their advice. I’ll also add one more suggestion about cover letters: don’t just cut and paste your abstract (or even worse, your CV). This is your chance to really highlight what parts of your article are new and important. As ArticlesEditor said, help us out and make it easy for us to accept.

    I think a lot of things will be similar across general-interest journals, such as what we are looking for in a good article, but I have gotten the sense that a lot of details are different. There are some of the questions I would ask if I were conducting a survey of the top 50 journals (which I think would be a great project):

    1. About how many unsolicited articles do you publish each year?
    2. When do you start reading submissions? When do you usually finish? Do you keep reading through the summer, or do you take a break and not start reading again until September?
    3. Is your process blind? If so, at what stage?
    4. Do you ever send pieces for faculty reviews? How often? What weight do these reviews have?
    5. How do you decide whether to honor expedite requests? Does the journal it is coming from matter?

  18. Brian Ray says:

    Articles Editors,

    I’ll echo Mark’s sentiment that your observations are extremely helpful. I’ll also pick up the survey thread. I actually sent a brief survey asking many (but not all) of the questions #367 suggests to several journals recently with plans to get it out to the top 100 and some specialties. Early response was quite tepid. I’m planning to tweak it a bit (including adding the questions I didn’t include) and send it back out in mid-April. If any of the editors who have commented are willing to respond on behalf of their journal, please e-mail me at brian.ray@law.csuohio.edu. I will keep all individual responses anonymous and only report aggregate data or individual responses without identifying information.

  19. anon3 says:

    “-Clear, concise writing goes a long, long way”

    If clear writing is so important, why are so many law review articles impenetrably written?

  20. ArticlesEditor says:

    “If clear writing is so important, why are so many law review articles impenetrably written?”

    Because the production editors get their hands on the piece and want it to conform to “Law Review style” :P.

    Kidding aside (though there’s probably a measure of truth to that), I think it’s because as simple as giving this advice is, it’s very difficult to pull off. I do think all the articles we select are written clearly enough for a generalist audience to understand, but we also have the luxury of selectivity.

  21. Inquiring says:

    Is the spring publication window now closed and is this site no longer communicating results?

  22. Anonymous Again says:

    I for one continue to check this thread, but I don’t have any results to report aside from a Harvard rejection. The mail has been quiet for me this week. I’m assuming the odds of getting a first offer on a month-old submission are now very slim.

  23. Another Anon says:

    It looks like W&L has announced a summer submission policy:


  24. inthehunt says:

    I’m still waiting to hear back from an expedite that I sent out last week. Phone calls to a couple of schools — Notre Dame and NC — shook loose a few rejections. But I think the window is close to closing for finals.

  25. anon says:

    So, which schools now have summer submission programs? Alabama does. Now, it looks like W&L does. Are there any others?

  26. Practititioner says:

    But the window is not completely closed. I got a call yesterday from a top-100 journal trying to make an offer, and they were unaware that I had withdrawn my article a few days earlier. So some journals are still making offers that are not based on expedites.

  27. student says:

    My expedite expired recently… some rejections still rolling in. And the token confused journal responding to my withdrawal by thanking me for my submission and informing me that they will reach a final decision within 3-8 weeks. Very helpful.

  28. Aspirant says:

    Student: You’ll get a rejection or two in July too. Those make me chuckle.

  29. Inquiring says:

    1. Are folks getting offers predominantly by phone or e-mail these days? and

    2. Is it customary to seek extensions of the acceptance deadlines and, if so, on what bases?

  30. Anon says:

    For what it is worth, I received a top-50 offer this week and released a mid second tier offer.

  31. new question for you all says:

    Don’t think this has been asked before…

    Is it standard practice for rejection emails to invite the author to re-submit the same piece again in August, if it has not been placed by then? Or to say that the law review will resume consideration of the same piece then if the author has not withdrawn it? Do journals that send such rejections send them to all rejected authors, or just to some?

  32. anon says:

    I just received an offer this week, and I know for sure that several top 10 journals are still reviewing articles since they responded to my expedite (and not just with an automatically generated email).

    I usually request an extension if a substantially higher ranked journal has requested more time. Almost all of the editors that I have dealt with have been gracious on this issue.

  33. another_student says:

    Another student author here. I submitted one piece in early March, which was picked up by a specialty journal fairly quickly. I submitted another piece to a handful of journals on March 22 or so, and (with the exception of one rejection) have not received any responses.

    I’m guessing that the window is about closed by now. At this point, should I expect to hear anything back from the remaining journals? I’m somewhat surprised by the silence; my first submission elicited 6-8 speedy rejections within the first week.

  34. inthehunt says:

    Another Student — my sense is that many journals have shut down for finals prep., which means that they’re not reviewing and rejecting or at best are working through the final set of expedites. I would leave it in play through the summer and then resubmit in August if you don’t get an offer. You might also consider submitting it to W&L’s and Alabama’s summer submission programs (although those each require single submission and start up around May 1).

  35. student says:

    Got an offer from a specialty journal at a top 50 school last Friday, with a 1 week deadline expiring this Friday, and now waiting to hear back from the better specialty journals. The silence is driving me nuts.