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Dealing with Law Review Rejections

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2 Responses

  1. Deven says:

    Larry,

    Thanks for yet another instructive post about the law review game.

    Question: Do you think that the lack of a major law review accepting a paper will have an impact on tenure? The idea of private publishing and citation will have to overcome the bias for published by another proxy for quality. In addition, as you note an author can alter a piece or withdraw it which seems to create an inherent instability for citation. That instability would undercut the power of SSRN or other avenues to be a proxy (assuming that citation will play a larger role as a proxy for evaluating quality in a non-law review world).

    In other words, I love the idea of papers living on and having power outside the vagaries of law review publishing but I wonder what the new world will look like.

  2. Lawrence Cunningham says:

    Deven,

    Thanks for your kind and thoughtful comment.

    Today, external tenure letters are the most important information concerning scholarship in any tenure file, followed by internal appraisals from colleagues in the field. Journal prestige can matter, but is rarely decisive, and citation counts provide a more reliable, though imperfect, proxy for quality, and a valuable measure of influence.

    In a world less reliant on formal journals for dissemination of knowledge, the prevailing quality proxy of journal prestige would diminish, and even greater weight placed on substantive tenure letters, ultimately a small adjustment, and probably desirable. Citation count utility should not change.

    For SSRN to achieve the status I imagine, improvements may be needed, especially to address your point about permanence. It would have to distinguish between preliminary and final versions, done somewhat now, and assure permanency of final versions, not in place now.

    The vital feature of scholarship is that it be disseminated for use by others, not kept in a drawer. Whether published in print after student editing or on-line without that, readers can evaluate substance. In a post-journal world, substantive merit may matter more than it can now.

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