Wednesday, December 8, 2021
Noah Chauvin (Google Scholar), The Banality of Law Journal Rejections, 106 Minn. L. Rev. Headnotes 18 (2021):
In the spring of 2021, I received two rejection messages from law journals I had submitted an article to. The messages came within seven minutes of one another. Nothing about this was remarkable, except that the two messages (with the exception of the names of the relevant journals) were identical. That experience led me to write this brief reflection on the bureaucratization of law journal rejections. I argue that the inauthenticity and formulaic nature of rejection notices has negative consequences for editor and author alike.
When compared to other objections to the law journal publication process—that it reduces the quality of scholarly articles, stifles creativity, and wastes the time of editors and the treasure of authors—my observation that it robs editor and author of a meaningful and candid interaction at the point of rejection seems inconsequential. And to be sure, receiving even a canned rejection notice is preferable to the more common problem of receiving no response at all. But there is something exceptional about the amateurishness of legal scholarship and academic publishing. It allows for creativity, for play; it can be fun. We should mourn any time that spark is snuffed out by those who confuse dullness with seriousness. To the fullest extent possible, we should prevent the banality of procedure and platitude from killing what makes legal scholarship special. As long as student editors are our partners in publishing legal scholarship, we should treat them as full partners. This means accepting them as people, not expecting them to be faux-professional avatars, and pushing back against the bureaucratization of any aspect of the publication process, including even the sending of rejection notices. And so, I beg the editors who reject this and future articles: please, tell me you didn’t like the paper. We will both be better off for it.