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August 06, 2012


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Doesn't Scholastica offer some benefits to law reviews in terms of preparation for publication of the articles submitted through it's system? I think I read where those in-house benefits helped push law reviews to switch. In effect, the law reviews may be out-sourcing some of their internal production costs to the people who submit to them. That might make sense in this budgetary climate with the decline of subscription revenues. There is probably more demand to publish in most law reviews than there is demand to buy those law reviews.

Matt Harrington

I remember that it wasn't so long ago that if one wanted to submit an article, he had to write and sign an actual letter, get the copies of the article printed, and then put them in individual envelopes to law reviews. The sheer volume of the work limited the number of submissions. It was, however, law reviews that encouraged the electronic submission. They apparently didn't like getting all the paper. They sold it as a more efficient way to take in the submissions. Now they're reaping the benefits or burdens of that approach.

However, isn't this the very same phenomenon we see in admissions? Not long ago, people applied to about 12 schools because you had to type the form and write 12 essays. Now, with electronic submission, one clicks a few buttons and the app goes out to 50 schools,with the result that schools are now looking for ways to wade through the volume.

Patrick Flanagan

>Doesn't Scholastica offer some benefits to law reviews in terms of preparation for publication of the articles submitted through it's system?

Indeed. Brain Cody at Scholastica gave me a walkthrough. It is a much more ambitious project than just article submissions handling like ExpressO. Through the Scholastica service, a journal can manage the entire publishing ecosystem, including communicating with authors, hosting working documents, and publishing online. My experience supporting the journals' work in our law library suggests that this service would be an improvement to the mishmash of Google Docs, DropBox folders, network drives, print proofs, and shared email accounts that student editors must sometimes employ. Though, no doubt, they'd also welcome anything that improves the slush pile.

If I understand correctly, this is their vision of open access publishing. A journal signs up on their service, the electrons flow, and at the end of the day the journal gets published online. The system, however, is flexible. Journals might still continue the print, opt not to publish online at all, or simply use as little or as much of the functionality available. The journal can pay for the service per submission or set it up so that the authors bear the burden of the service through submission fees.

Many scholars outside law rankle at the idea that an author would have to pay to submit an article. But, since legal scholars or their institutions already pay (ExpressO is relatively inexpensive, but certainly not free) and submissions are non-exclusive (encouraging the "avalanche" you mention), Scholastica may find a more receptive and economically viable market in the law than other disciplines. Well, maybe the jury's still out on "viable," but perhaps at least, "initially workable."


At $5 a pop, I hope this new system at least lets you see the status of submissions and maybe even change it. It's absurd ExpressO won't let you mark rejections.


How often does University of Chicago Law Review publish the work of professors who don't work at the University of Chicago? I'm not sure Chicago by its lonesome is going to move the market, since the chance of outside faculty publishing in the journal are pretty minimal to begin with.

Why pay $5 for a 99 percent chance of rejection in favor of someone at Chicago? And if money is now the barrier of choice, won't this just give an even bigger advantage to professors at the wealthier schools, i.e., won't this replicate letterhead bias?

Carl Wagner

In my fields, mathematics and philosophy, it is considered unethical to submit a paper to more than one journal at a time. Only lawyers would cook up a system involving multiple submissions, bargaining with editors, and most ludicrous of all, having STUDENTS (often a professor's own students) decide whether a paper is accepted for publication. How is it that all you overpaid law professors can't be bothered to edit law journals and referee submissions like the rest of your academic colleagues?

Bill Farber

Who reads these things, anyway?

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