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21 May 2007

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William Henderson

Chris, this is a great question.

I think there is more to this distinction than your realize.

A few years ago, I wrote a monograph for the LSAC, which required social science format. I subsequently wrote a more extensive analysis for a law review, which of course required bluebooking.

As I made the transition, I realized that the biggest difference was the audience. The topic was appropriate for legal audiences (the LSAT and law school exams), but they were unfamiliar with the social science literature--and often questioned fundamental premises. Dropping a footnote with a pincite and a parenthetical quote is a remarkably effective tool for educating a non-specialist audience.

Equally significant is the opportunity--indeed, the expectation--to unpack the normative and policy aspects of the findings. In my opinion, this is the biggest drawback of the pure discipline journals. (On the other hand, writing in a social science format does have the beneficial effect of forcing the author concisely articulate how the paper contributes to the literature.)

For this reason, I think JELS policy is about right.

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