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March 08, 2010

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Brando Simeo Starkey

I don't think your CV should matter either. I also don't think legal academia should place any value on where the article is published. What I find odd is that although everyone realizes that students can't evaluate quality scholarship, the culture still assigns a positive value to articles placed in journals from top schools and devalues anything placed in lower ranked journals. I don't get it.

Orin Kerr

Tim,

Law review article editors I've talked to have suggested that some sort of biographical information is helpful mostly to establish the author's expertise in the topic. In other words, the goal is to give student editors some comfort that the author actually knows what s/he is talking about -- helpful for student editors who are unlikely to be experts in the topic themselves.

One thing I have seen is an "about the author" blurb on the cover page instead of a formal CV. Basically, it's just a one-paragraph blurb that says, "hi, I'm professor X, I teach at Y, I write about Z, and here's why I know what I'm talking about."

steve lubet

FWIW, it is standard procedure (in fact, virtually required) to include an "about the author" section in book proposals. Book publishers and editors are much more sophisticated than law students, but they still want to know something about the writer.

Jacqueline Lipton

So does that have some bearing on how you arrange your CV? I've never been sure if students want to see "where" you've published before or rather the extent of your expertise in the field of the article you are submitting. Faculty who write in several different areas might want to think about that in terms of how they arrange their list of publications in their CV eg by subject area, by "major" versus "minor" listing of publications. Any thoughts on this one?

KN

Re the comparison to book proposal protocol: I've never submitted one, but I wouldn't have thought a book proposal was a relevant basis of comparison. If the book contract is decided before a manuscript is written (as is typical), then I assume the assessment process has to be credential-heavy. With the law reviews (like peer-reviewed journals), the work is already written, and so the work can be judged on its own merits. Peer-reviewed journals often choose to proceed in ignorance of the author's bio or previous publications. This is part of the reason scholars in other fields are surprised by the law-review submission process.

steve lubet

I don't submit to law reviews, but my guess is that student editors are interested in prior placements (although they can easily find them without an appended cv). Book editors are more interested inestablished expertise and past reviews.

Tim Zinnecker

My thesis is that the quality of an article should be determined solely by that -- the article itself. I am not naive, though. I know that student editors use other filters, such as letterhead, inhouse v. external author, subject matter (bias in favor of sexy topics, anathema to UCC and tax), etc. But any info about the author that may truly be germane to the issue of "quality" is available online (faculty profiles, data base searches, etc.), isn't it?

If I was a student editor, and I was worried about "quality," I'd pay careful attention to the "acknowledgments" footnote. It seems to me that a piece that has been vetted by multiple folks should be presumed to pass the "quality" test. Beyond that, what other information (particularly external) is really relevant?

bss

Also, re: the book proposal, the author's bio helps editors know if the book can sell.

Orin Kerr

Tim,

I tend to disagree with relying on the acknowledgements section. If you focus on the names mentioned, doesn't that just show how connected the author is? And if you focus on the number of names, doesn't that just how much outside help the author needed to get the article into the shape it's in?

anon

All the acknowledgements section tells the reader is the names of the people the author wishes to acknowledge (which I concede will sometimes allow inferences about connectedness). The people listed may or may not have had any effect on the content of the piece. Some may be acknowledged as a gesture of respect precisely because their suggestions weren't followed, or because they showed up to a presentation. I have operated on the premise that there are just two purposes to the acknowledgements list: (1) thanking people one genuinely wants to thank; and (2) making an impression on student journal editors (the only plausible extrinsic reason I can think of).

Tim Zinnecker

Orin (and perhaps others): My acknowledgment note usually says, among other things, that "the following people offered comments on an earlier draft ...." So I continue to believe that (at least in my case) an editor is able to conclude that the paper has been vetted by others. Does it tell the editor how "connected" I am? I doubt it. Unless a name has national recognition or appears on a casebook (e.g., in either case, Tribe, Kerr, Lessig, etc.) or is on the resident faculty, the names are probably meaningless to most student editors. As for drawing any inference from the number of folks mentioned? I wouldn't conclude from a short or long list anything other than those folks offered comments (perhaps on point, perhaps not, perhaps incorporated, perhaps not, etc.).

GM

Tim,

I too am opposed to this practice, it smacks (at least in part) of pedigree obsession. Of course I can't blame the law review editors because this obsession with pedigree and "personality" starts with law professors.

Consider a few examples: 1) almost every law school biography page starts with education; 2) the FAR is predominantly focused on education; 3) blogger introductions don't make it far before we get to pedigree (consider every guest blogger intro at Concurring Opinions, or here at the Lounge); 4) Solum's list this year solicits and will report mostly education related info. 5) How many times have you overheard a candidate described as "Jane Smith, JD Yale, top of her class, coif, law review, Circuit clerkship, two top 50 placements." That's someone boiled down to a sentence, and I imagine many here would like to interview her and many law reviews would like to publish her work.

Our whole profession is obsessed with what many of us did when we were in our mid-20's, I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that law review editors in their mid-20's are similarly interested in those facts.

Now of course a C.V. reveals more than just education, but the fact that a C.V. is considered at all says a lot about legal scholarship.

The Cult of Pedigree reigns supreme.

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