Saturday, June 2, 2007

what they're doing on the law journals

A new article by Jason Nance and Dylan Steinberg provides some more information on The Law Review Article Selection Process:  Results from a National Study.  You can download the full text gratis from SSRN at:  And here's their abstract:

"The student-edited law review has been a much
criticized institution. Many commentators have expressed their
belief that students are unqualified to determine which articles
should be published in which journals, but these discussions have
been largely based on anecdotal evidence of how journals make
publication decisions. It was against that backdrop that we
undertook a national survey of law reviews in an attempt to
determine how student editors responsible for making publication
decisions went about their task. This article compiles the
results of that survey, which received 191 responses from 163
different journals. We analyzed 56 factors that influence the
selection process and then grouped similar items together to form
17 constructs using factor analysis. Finally, we disaggregated
the results to determine whether the results were significantly
different based on the prestige of the journals involved. While
many of our results confirm what has been widely assumed to be
true, there are also some surprising findings. We found, for
example, that Articles Editors seek to publish articles from
well-known and widely-respected authors. It appears, however,
that editors do not assume that prestigious authors produce the
best scholarship, but instead they pursue the work of well-known
authors because it can increase their journals' prestige within
the legal academic community. The survey reveals that editors are
not nearly as likely to seek out articles dealing with hot or
trendy topics as some commentators have assumed, and that author
diversity plays almost no role in the article selection process.
We hope that our study will provide some structure to the ongoing
debate about how best to use students in the law review
publication process and will allow a more informed consideration
of whether students are sufficiently well-trained to evaluate
articles and whether they are using the proper criteria."


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