Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Acknowledgments As A Window Into Legal Academia

Jonathan I. Tietz (Michigan) & W. Nicholson Price II (Michigan), Acknowledgments as a Window into Legal Academia, 98 Wash. U. L. Rev. 307 (2020):

Legal scholarship in the United States is an oddity—an institution built on student editorship, a lack of peer review, and a dramatically high proportion of solo authorship. It is often argued that this makes legal scholarship fundamentally different from scholarship in other fields, which is largely peer-reviewed by academics. We use acknowledgments in biographical footnotes from law-review articles to probe the nature of legal knowledge co-production and de facto peer review in legal literature. Using a survey of authors and editors and a textual analysis of approximately thirty thousand law-review articles from 2008 to 2017, we examined the nature of knowledge co-production and peer review in U.S. legal academia.

Our results are consistent with the idea that substantial peer-review-like vetting occurs in the field. We also found evidence that both authors and editors use the information in acknowledgment footnotes as a factor in article submission and selection. Further, the characteristics of acknowledgment footnotes in articles in high-ranking law reviews differ dramatically from those in low-ranking law reviews in ways that are not simply due to differences in article quality.

Michigan 2

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Finally, there are problematic gender differences in who is being acknowledged.

Michigan 4

We propose some modest changes to current practices that would help maximize transparency and minimize bias in legal scholarly networks and law-review article selection.

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Unless they interviewed those acknowledged to determine their input, this is irrelevant.

Posted by: Jeffrey harrison | Dec 4, 2020 7:43:13 AM