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27 February 2006

Comments

Jeff Yates

I think that both Chris and Valerie make good points on this matter. Political Science (Law & Courts) has certainly seen a trend of more law review publishing and a number of those scholars have moved over to law schools, likely for the reasons Chris mentions.

I agree with Valerie that the decision to publish in law reviews often turns on the intended audience. I would add that it might also turn on the question asked. Let's face it, political science journals aren't exactly open minded as to the types of articles that get published (although I'll admit that they are improving). Certain approaches and substantive concerns are more conducive to law review publication.

Also, I think that I would rather see a fellow faculty member publishing in a good law review than in some of the "Neverheardofit Journal of North Pole Economics and Philosophy" outlets that social scientists publish some of their work in and are, perhaps questionably, peer reviewed.

Academic rigor is important, but there are varying degrees of it in social science journals. Also, there's something to be said for rigor *and* visibility (e.g. good law reviews).

Valerie Hans

I publish in both peer-reviewed journals and law reviews. Whenever I think about where to submit a new piece, one of the most significant issues is the intended audience. If I want to communicate the results of a research project to the legal community -- both academics and practitioners -- the law review seems to have an edge in visibility. If I'm writing a piece for a law review, I also try to write in a way that's more accessible to those who are unfamiliar with social science methodology, so I'm sure it's easier to plow through than a social science article. On the other hand, if a research project might at some point be considered by a court as part of litigation, having the work subject to peer review can be critically important. Luckily, some projects are substantial enough to write distinct pieces for both of these venues, and if so I try to do that.

F.E. Guerra-Pujol

I found this entry to be helpful. It is dangerous to generalize, but I find that a lot of the papers that are published in student-edited law reviews are by and large 'psuedo-scientific' in nature (to borrow Karl Popper's famous phrase). That is, such papers try to appear rigorous and 'scientific' but, in reality, they are at bottom nothing more than normative statements of what the law in a given area should be dressed-up in sophisticated language, often without a shred of empirical evidence to back up the claims made.

Christopher Zorn

Hm.

I think Max is just a bit Pollyannaish here. I suspect most PhD-holding, tenured or tenure-track empirical folks would take umbrage at the idea of a bunch of 3Ls "see(ing) if the author was honest and careful." And the vast numbers of student-run law reviews, together with the relatively tiny number of legal-minded social scientists, makes any sort of peer-review hard to imagine. (Of course, if the answer is "peer-review only for those papers with empirical content," that raises all sorts of equity issues).

Also: I used to be of the mind that the answer to Jeff's (2) was "Nothing good" -- I was explicitly told not to even think about publishing law journals before tenure, and that if I did those papers would actually count against my case.

OTOH, it also appears to be the case that most law schools are skittish about hiring non-JD faculty unless they have some law review papers to their credit. So, if the bulk of empirical scholars ever want the prestige/big raise/other perks that come with a law school affiliation, we'll have to play the law-review game.

Jeff Yates

This is an intriguing question. But maybe it should be two questions:

1) What does publishing in law reviews vs. peer reviewed journals mean for law professors? and
2)What does it mean for those in social science departments?

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