My thanks to the ELSBlog crew for having me back. Once again, I promise to try to resist the urge to self-promote.
Up first, a word about law reviews. I don't publish in them, and probably never will, but it's not for a lack of desire to do so. Rather, I (and, I suspect, many other law-interested social scientists) avoid them because of the many little impediments social scientists face when considering submitting our work to law reviews. (Note that what's coming is not a rant about peer-review (or the lack thereof) in law journals; that's for another day). While the catalog of those deterrents is not short -- biannual submission seasons, the expedite process, the legal academy's weird death-grip on outmoded software (e.g., ExpressO accepting Word and Wordperfect files, but not PDFs), and so forth -- I'd suggest that the most significant is style.
Suppose I am writing an empirical paper on some law-related phenomenon, one that might be appropriate for publication in either a social science periodical like Law & Society Review or one or more law journals. One of the first decisions I have to make is about the format/style of the paper: Are references in-line and parenthetical or footnoted and annotated? Do I include a bibliography/list of references? Does "id." beat out "a" and "the" as the most common word in the paper?
As anyone who works in both law and social science is aware, the decision is not a trivial one. "Converting" a paper from a "legal" style to a "scientific" one (or vice-versa) is both tedious and a colossal waste of time and effort. Yet many (most?) journals will not even consider papers that are formatted incorrectly, making such conversions almost inescapable. (It's interesting to me that the most prominent exception -- the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, which allows authors to use either a legal or a social-scientific citation style -- seems to publish a fair number of articles of both types).
At least some of the variation has to do with the different purposes citations serve in legal and scientific work. The APA citation style (and its derivatives, like APSA style) focuses on giving "credit where credit is due," ensuring that authors document the sources of their statements. On the legal side, the Bluebook's website states it best: "(T)he central function of a legal citation is to allow the reader to efficiently locate the cited source." In the days when law journals were primarily written for and read by practicing attorneys, this emphasis made a good bit of sense; whether it does so now seems (to me) to be an open question.
The larger point is that such style differences are one more barrier to work that bridges the legal and social scientific academies. But what to do? Throw out the Bluebook? (I like that idea, but I'm sure many others won't). Relax the style guidelines for some types of work, or eliminate them all together? Barring that, what do you do to deal with this issue?