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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, August 31, 2007

An Empirical Study of the Law Review Article Selection Process

Leah M. Christensen (St. Thomas (Minnesota)) & Julie A. Oseid (St. Thomas (Minnesota)) have posted Navigating the Law Review Article Selection Process: An Empirical Study of Those With All the Power - Student Editors, 59 S.C. L. Rev. 465 (2008), on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Anyone who enters the legal academy knows the pressure for new law professors to publish or perish. The use of student editors as the "gatekeepers" of legal scholarship is a distinctive feature of the legal academy. Yet, even with student editors holding the keys to academic success, few empirical studies have explored what factors student editors consider most important when making article selection decisions. The study reported in this Article attempts to shed light on this process and provide suggestions for new law professors as they navigate the law review article submission process.

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) weigh the importance of author credentials, topic, format, and timing of an article submission in making their selection decisions. Although most editors consider each of these factors, the data also suggests that the higher-ranked journals rely more heavily on author credentials than lower-ranked journals. 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. In addition to describing the survey results in more detail, this article will offer specific commentary from the student editors about their process of selecting law review articles.

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I don't want to be negative all the time, but it is depressing that this sort of study of other people's scholarship has itself become a surrogate for doing one's own scholarship. Are people really getting tenured by studying how other people get tenured? Call me a pessimist, but I don't see how law schools will ever be taken seriously in academia if this is what our scholarly work consists of.

Posted by: Michael Livingston | Aug 31, 2007 8:14:54 AM