Monday, April 3, 2017
From time to time, we at the BLPB offer our views on publishing with law reviews. The excellent, the good, the bad, the ugly--apparently, we have seen it all (or at least close to it). See, e.g., Marcia's post from last year that includes links to many of these prior posts. This post carries forward that tradition.
Two-and-a-half years ago, I published a post entitled Nightmare in Law Review Land . . . . That post included the two standard instructions that I routinely give to law reviews when I submit stack-check drafts.
The first is to leave in the automatic footnote cross-referencing that I have used in the draft until we finalize the article. The second is to notify me if the staff believes that new footnote citations or citation parentheticals need to be added (specifically noting that I will handle those additions myself).
For the most part, this has worked well for me. Recently, however, I received the following response to the second instruction:
Thank you for your notes. As part of our editing process, we add any needed citations and parentheticals. We build in time to do this and tend to be fairly thorough. If there are questions regarding sources or an individual has trouble finding sources, our Lead Article Editor (who will serve as your main contact) will reach out to ask you for assistance. As a general rule, our journal does tend to add a large number of parentheticals. I only mention this because it has sometimes caught Authors off guard in the past and I thought it would be worth mentioning on the front end. You will have two opportunites to review the parentheticals and added citations over the next few months to ensure they are consistent with your work.
I should have pushed back. I didn't. The result? I got back a draft with a bunch of new, bungled footnote citations and parentheticals. It took me hours to run down the new sources cited and consider them. I responded with significant edits in the draft and the following comments in my cover message, in pertinent part (edited to omit a few typos):
[F]ootnote citations were frequently inserted in places (especially in the introduction and other areas in which I have provided a “roadmap”—a summary of where the text will go next) where I do not believe they are needed. I have left specific comments in each place, although I fear they may not be well enough developed. But ask questions where you have them.
Relatedly, the citations inserted for a number of these new footnotes supported principles other than those in the cited sentence. . . . In each case, I tried to go find the material being referenced in the cited source and evaluate whether it supported the stated principle. Then, if I found a disconnect, I suggested in the margin an alternative footnote. . . . [I]f you decide under your editorial guidelines that a citation is required, please use the alternative I provided. . . .
Also, parentheticals were added in places where they are not required, e.g., in general citations to cases . . . . I took them out. If you require parenthetical in these places, please just ask and I will supply them. The parentheticals that were added were either so general that they were unhelpful or included inapposite information.
I am not sure my tone was right on the message. But I admit that I was frustrated and disappointed--maybe more with myself than with the law review students who worked on editing the article--when I wrote the message. My time in cross-checking all those faulty citations and parentheticals was entirely wasted. I could easily have added some footnotes and parentheticals where I had missed including them in the draft I submitted, as necessary or desired. It would have taken a lot less time (more like ten, instead of thirty, hours).
Have any of you had this same issue with law review editors? I originally experienced this years ago, which led to my standard instruction. But it seems the problem persists. So, it must have something to do with the way law review editors are instructed--or instruct each other. Perhaps that instruction requires more thought . . . .
At any rate, since I started issuing my two standard instructions, I have had fewer dissatisfying experiences. I plan to continue with the practice of including them when I submit draft articles for review. And I guess next time a law review insists in response on supplying new footnotes and parentheticals, I will send the editors a link to this post . . . .