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The Unraveling of the Market for Law Review Submissions

Dave Hoffman

Dave Hoffman is a James E. Beasley Professor of Law at Temple Law School. He specializes in law and psychology, contracts, and quantitative analysis of civil procedure. He currently teaches contracts, civil procedure, corporations, and law and economics.

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6 Responses

  1. m says:

    I think this post is making a lot (very) old news. Some law reviews have moved their board transitions before spring break so that the new board has time to settle in before exams. That has more to do with changes in the academic calender than anything else.

    But even if there is some backward “creep” going on here, so what? It has no bearing whatsoever on the ability of boards to make decisions about quality. The use of proxies is a function of lack of expertise and sheer quantity of submissions (over time). And those conditions have existed for many years and will continue to exist unless radical changes are made in legal publishing. The only plausible way to improve quality is a single-submission policy, which would require a shift to faculty peer review–which is clearly not on the horizon.

  2. Sweaters Etc. says:

    Is there room in the “unraveling” model for posts like this one, which is read by some-perhaps-many editors, as an accelerator? Reminds me of an old Weezer song . . .

    Also, does it count as a model if it just describes what happens? What characteristics enable one to predict such a phenomenon, and how might it be addressed — not to say “solved”?

  3. Frank says:

    This is an extraordinarily smart analysis of the problem.

    But I fear you may be inadvertently encouraging it by referring to a “market value” of papers. Such economistic rhetoric presumes a commensurating metric along which all scholarship can be ranked. I think that, not only does such a metric fail to exist, presuming it does so only reinforces the kind of “rich get richer” phenomenon you criticize in the post.

    Here’s a good commentary by Bob Kuttner on the underlying problem of rankings:

    http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=11221

  4. Anthony says:

    I just got an email from the Utah Law Review saying that they’re not evaluating submissions until May 1; I also remember reading a blog post a few days ago about how Utah Law Review’s ranking (by citation count) is significantly lower than one would expect given its U.S. News ranking.

    I wonder if a lot of the difference in citations could be attributed to turnover dates… after all, if Utah LRev doesn’t evaluate submissions until May 1 every year, one would expect it to miss out on a lot of well regarded and highly cited articles because those authors would have submitted during the Feb/March window and accepted offers before Utah even began accepting submissions. Might be interesting to study this further.

  5. Preston says:

    From the Utah Law Review: Hi. I am the Editor-in-Chief for the Utah Law Review. In response to Anthony’s post, the Law Review is accepting submissions beginning on March 15. The reason for the temporary (past and ongoing) moratorium on acceptance of articles is due to all of our editions for the current year being filled earlier in the year, and not because of an ongoing and late beginning acceptance date. I apologize for any inconvenience and/or confusion.

  6. Dave Hoffman says:

    Preston. Thanks for commenting here and for clearing up the confusion. Frank, I tend to agree with you that that discussions of rankings tends to reinforce them (“Sweathers Etc.” seems to make a similar point). Anthony, I doubt the value of the ranking-by-citation indicator, especially outside of a narrow band where there is a great deal of data, because a few well-cited articles can really turn the results quickly.