Tuesday, August 9, 2005
Since many of you may be working on getting out a publication this Fall (or perhaps have already submitted one), Crooked Timber has an interesting post about the world of law review publications. The editor notes:
Now I know that there are a lot of complaints among legal academics about the dominant role of student-edited law reviews. But (if this is at all representative), I hadn’t realized quite how bad the problem was. It’s not (as Micah has argued previously ) the fault of the students editing these reviews – when you have so many article submissions that you’re literally unable to read them all (thanks to the practice of multiple submissions), you’re inevitably going to have some more-or-less unfair metric for deciding which ones to read, and which ones not to. The problem is a structural one. But it does suggest that it’s going to be a lot more difficult for a smart legal academic in a second or third tier school to improve her position by publishing material in good journals, than it would be if she were, say, a political scientist or a sociologist. If her school’s position in the rankings counts against her chances of getting published, she may find herself in a Catch-22 situation; the only way to get published in good journals is to improve her personal name-recognition (since her school won’t help), but the only way to improve her personal name-recognition is to get published.
This observation rings true to me. I had a colleague who sent around an article. After receiving an offer of publication, he called other schools attempting to obtain a better placement. He mentioned in one phone call that he was from UC. The student editor became very excited - University of Chicago! "Um, no," my colleague answered, "University of Cincinnati." Needless to say, my colleague was not greeted with quite the same enthusiasm after he made the correction. I am not sure what the answer is to the rankings roulette, but blind reads does sound like one potential solution. [bm]