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May 24, 2016


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I have gone through both routes and have been well published. Peer review law journals are not efficient. Once I sent my draft to a UK journal the editor rejected it within an hour didn't even send it to peer review. Funny, the paper was given an offer a werk latet in a prestigious T14 specialty. I did publish different paper in a non US peer review - what a political game. Only after I realized these blokes wanted me to cite to their journal articles did I realize how superior our US student journals are. They kept urging me to look at this or that angle and after 2 or 3 times I realized they were the ones who espoused that position and I cited to their articles. Suddenly, my article was perfect. Yeh peer the game cite to people who are the reviewers and get approved. What a joke.



In various fields,where citation counts are important, it has long been somewhat notorious that there is a lot of quid-pro-quo citing happening, and that is not limited to social sciences.


Yeah, MacK, like you know ANYTHING about this, busy globe-trotting lawyer you are.


My point is the euro centric peer review system is not better than the US system. In fact it is worse and we should not change. I have been to enough conferences where the UK and other euro professors have this air of superiority based on being published in a peer reviewed publication.



As it happens, I know quite a lot about it. STEM graduate, family members are STEM academics, know numerous STEM researchers in my busy globetrotting tech law practice, know enough to suggest that you are an ignoramus. I also regularly read many STEM articles, something it seems Anon does not do - must be the numbers....

In some peer review journals, particularly narrowly focused, there is pretty obvious quid-pro-quo citation, it's not particularly a secret; scientists talk quietly about it and who does it. There are other ways in certain scientific fields to get high citation counts - certain types of articles get high citations because they produce a useful data point to use in other research, they establish or confirm hard but useful measurements.

Anon - how do I express this, anonymous snark suits your lack of substance.



As it happens I do read law journals, European and US. Generally European journals are of higher quality and much more useful. However, I woukd not necessarily ascribe this to the peer review system. Most European legal journals are commercial or published by legal professional societies focused in a field. The result is that their are fewer journals and they need to retain the interest of legal professionals so as to maintain subscriptions. So as a starting point, the need to get subscribers drives quality. Think of them as closer to the publications of the Bureau of National Affairs.

A second factor is that most of Europe lacks a proper court reporter system, and even the UK and Ireland's system is haphazard and lack good digesting. English case decisions, especially from the Court of Appeal and House of Lords/Supreme Court are often vague and hard to follow - the ECJ is better, but still it's decisions can be opaque. This offers fertile ground for publishing legal articles in a legal environment where necessity means that legal briefs regularly cite secondary sources such as treatises and articles; it also means that European legal academics can usefully dig out obscure legal issues and treatment in courts that in the US is readily available. When look at legal pleadings I have written and/or contributed to in Europe, international matters and the US, one thing that is striking is the amount of quotation of secondary sources outside the US, as compared to the almost complete dependence in the US in primary sources, i.e., court decisions.

In other words it is not just peer review that is the issue. I'd add that European legal academics are closer to practice, or indeed are also in practice than is typical in the US.

Written in an iPad - so please excuse typos.



I'd add a point, though there is an element of which came first, chicken or egg.

The fact that European lawyers and courts rely so heavily on secondary sources means that it is important that journals and books are peer reviewed - or perhaps they rely on them heavily because they are peer reviewed. In any even it is a different publishing environment for a different market.


At mack you raise interesting points regarding the 2 systems. But I am not sure that after all is said and done the euro law journals are better quality as you opine. I think the innovation and intellectual vigor remains an American characteristic. Indeed, I believe that the peer review can stifle fresh thinking.



I would not say that one is better than the other, and I do not think i said so - which is better depends on your point of view. European journals are heavily directed at practitioners, judges adjudicators adjudicators. As such they tend towards being conservative statements of what the law is, and they tend to be much less inclined to speculate as to what it should be. Because the target readership is expected to rely on what these journals publish - they are more rigorous as to what is the fact and the law and they seek out peer review, often by those who would use them. It is important to remember that in Europe you pay for most journals, they are published by various houses like Kluwer, Sweet & Maxwell/Thomson. OUP, etc. and the are ****ing expensive. If they were not useful the law firms would not subscribe. So yes, you are right, there is less "fresh thinking," but that is not what the readership wants, though it definitely wants to know of fresh thinking by the courts, the EU Commission, etc.

The target readership for US journals is US legal academia and the journals are essentially free, piled up outside the journal office door. What you describe as innovation and intellectual vigor means that the journals are not particularly useful to practitioners, judges or adjudicators, because they publish speculation, policy ideas and argument to a large degree and rarely provide usable conclusions of law that differ from what can be found in case reporters. Because they are not going to be relied upon as statements of the law, peer review is regarded as essentially redundant. I think it is debatable how much the US readership cares for the "fresh thinking" that you regard as so important - as far as I can tell the typical US law review/journal article as a readership consisting of not much more than the author's mother.

Would adopting peer review change the way US journals are viewed and used. That is a tougher question. European journals in part address a need that results from the opacity of European legal reporting - the same opacity is not present in the US. Try finding out about German litigation sometime, that is to say, has company A been sued in a German court for Y - short of touring the courthouses it is impossible - there is no PACER in Germany or the UK - you send a clerk to chancery land or the the Landgericht. So there is an inherent need and demand that peer reviewed European journals are fulfilling, that is largely fulfilled in the US by primary sources. The other issue is that European law professors are typically much close to practice than US - many are members of firms as well as teaching.


you send a clerk to Chancery Lane....

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