Sunday, January 8, 2006

Peer-Edited Law Journals

In the coming weeks, Matt Bodie at PrawfsBlawg will be doing an interesting survey of peer-edited law journals:

In the upcoming weeks I will be writing about the specifics regarding peer-review law journals.  I'll be taking a sample of such journals and exploring a bit more about who they are and what they do.  For each journal, I'll be asking questions such as the following:

    • What is the process for submitting to the journal?
    • What types of articles does the journal publish?
    • Who runs the journal?
    • Who are the peer reviewers for the journal?
    • What does it mean to have your article published in that journal?

I look forward to reading Matt's forthcoming posts.  On a related subject, in a comment to his initial post, I wrote:

I'd be interested in your thoughts on why there don't seem to be more faculty-edited journals focused on the major common-law doctrinal areas. I'm a property person, and I'd love to see someone establish a faculty-edited property journal. My main working theory (for which I have absolutely no evidence) is that the established professors who could get a journal off the ground with some prestige (say, Carol Rose) are happy with the present system of student edited law reviews. Plus, editing is a lot of work.

I'm aware that the Real Property, Probate, and Trust Journal is peer-edited, but I have in mind something with a more academic focus.  If you have any thoughts on this issue, please leave a comment.

Ben Barros

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Ben, I think this is a bit of a chicken-egg problem. The RPPT Journal publishes plenty of "academic" articles, albeit those of some use to practicing lawyers (heaven forbid). So does another well-known ABA law review, the Business Lawyer, and several others published by the ABA and other professional organizations (such as the American Bankruptcy Institute Law Review). The system in place at the law schools, however, discourages non-tenured professors from submitting their "academic" pieces to these journals, which are seen as "practitioner" journals. A tenure committee that wants articles in a "top 50" journal is usually talking about the primary journal of a US News "top 50" law school, not a journal that appears on the list of 50 law journals most cited by courts (a ranking that the Business Lawyer rountinely achieves). So perhaps WE (tenure and promotion committees) are the problem. When peer review is seen as a good thing by tenure committees, perhaps we'll see more peer-reviewed law journals. (So in short, I agree with your working theory).

Posted by: Juliet Moringiello | Jan 8, 2006 3:19:12 PM

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