Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Using ExpressO to Implement Law Review Submission Reform

In response to my post on law review submission reform, my new junior colleague Lynn Bai proposed a simple but elegant solution to the current madness of faculty submitting articles to often over a hundred law reviews and then using the expedited review process to trade up the food chain:  allow faculty to submit to as many law reviews as they like, but they must accept their first offer.  Al Brophy (North Carolina) applauded the idea but feared that it would be "enormously difficult to get law reviews to agree to it."  Jack Chin (Arizona) has proposed using ExpressO to implement the reform:

I assume it would be technically simple to add to the ExpressO submission system an option committing the author to accept the first offer. This information would be sent with the article and cover letter to the journals. Journals, in turn, could accept such a piece on line, and all the other journals informed that it was no longer available. Perhaps the journals would also be told the number of other journals to which a particular paper had been submitted; if five, they would pay more attention than if fifty.

One of ExpressO's advantages is the many journals using its service, so ExpressO would not want to do anything that would drive off law reviews. But it is hard to see why journals would object to being told that the authors of particular pieces will accept the first offer. Journals would not have to prioritize review of such pieces. They might appreciate not having to waste time reviewing articles they have no chance of getting--as they do now under the current system when a higher ranked journal has made an offer on a piece, and the author has not had the courtesy to withdraw it from venues no longer in play.

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Using ExpressO is a very good idea. In addition, I do believe that there is incentive for most of the law reviews to go with the "publish with the first offer" submission policy - at least enough to form a critical mass so that even law reviews that do not participate still must review submissions in a timely manner in order to get ahead of those that opt for such a policy. Perhaps the AALS should take the initiative. Does anyone know whether it has a committee on law review reforms?

Posted by: Lynn Bai | May 27, 2008 7:46:57 AM