The journal that I edit, The Justice System Journal, is a peer reviewed public law and judicial politics journal that publishes articles on courts and court administration, very broadly defined. The journal is available online through Westlaw and Hein on Line. Unlike The Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, we operate on an exclusive submission basis. We serve two audiences. First we have an audience of court administrators and court professionals. These readers want information both practical and theoretical about the state of courts and court administration as well suggestions as to how to improve performance. Our second audience, and the one most of you would be interested in, is that of social scientists and those in the legal profession. We seek quality social science work, and will accept different methodological approaches.
The practice of some previous editors was to insist that submissions to the Journal forgo most statistical and methodological language that would, in their opinion, be incomprehensible to much of the audience of court administrators. While I understand the concern, that begs the question of where one draws the appropriate line in talking to our various audiences. The prior editor did not allow any use of numbers, data or the use of statistical of methodological language and analyses. Thus, authors could not discuss actual data or methods and could not present coefficients, only asterisks to represent statistical probabilities of occurrence. There was a thought that academic authors could save their detailed data driven work for a second version and publish that in other journals. This “secondary market” of publication rarely, and I think appropriately rarely, occurred. Once submitted to us, authors were understandably reluctant to submit essentially the same piece to another journal.
I am not criticizing past practices for this, but I am trying to find the right mix. I will include methodological analyses and full reporting of data and results. I do ask, however, for greater clarity and greater explanation of data and analysis with the understanding of our dual audience. I am now trying to decide about formal theory analysis. Can they be explained so that a diverse audience can appreciate that?