Since this is a blog of law professors and political scientists and connected to the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, a journal that uses peer review but also allows multiple submissions, an issue I want to raise is publishing venue. The ability to speak to more than one audience is a tremendous benefit to political scientists who research and write in judicial politics and public law. It is very satisfying to see your work cited and discussed by those outside the discipline and this helps in establishing a national reputation, always a critical part of tenure and promotion decisions.
However, for those of us in the social sciences there are some pitfalls. You have to be careful to consider the weight of various publication outlets, make sure your department will give you credit for those publications, and consider whether potential employers want publications in journals outside of political science. One thing I have noticed in participating in job searches over the past several years is the increase in the number of law review articles published by candidates for judicial politics and public law positions. However, since these are not peer reviewed, how much weight should a hiring committee give to these types of publications? It is often difficult for hiring committees to evaluate law review articles. To most of my colleagues it is difficult to assess the article and compare it to a work that has gone through peer review.
Political scientists are familiar with the hierarchy of political science journals and can infer information and potential quality of the article from the journal in which a peer reviewed article is published. Most departments usually have one or at most two faculty specializing in public law and judicial politics. Because of this, most departmental search committee members have only a vague idea of the submission and publication process for law reviews, or how to assess their worth. Many of my non judicial departmental colleagues think of them as the equivalent of other non peer reviewed publications such as book reviews and book chapters. I think this can be unfair because many times law review articles have gone through an informal peer review process through presentation at symposia and because they are often available online prior to publication in the law review and thus accessible for comments and suggestions. Because of this attitude my recommendation is to concentrate on peer reviewed submissions when building a record for a first job out of graduate school or for a job in another political science department while untenured. After tenure I am not so sure, but I find myself still submitting to peer reviewed publications, and only thinking of law reviews for articles that have methodological problems, such as a small sample size.