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The information for this guide was compiled from a number of excellent resources available in print and online. These resources are written by authors, law review editors, and librarians and are referenced below under Helpful Tips and Links. You may want to review these resources for a more complete understanding of the process of successful article submission.
August and February to March are the most productive times of the year to submit materials for publication. Articles editors use spring submissions to fill their fall issues and fall submissions to fill their spring issues. Generally no one is reviewing articles from the summer, and once the issues are filled, submissions are discarded or passed to the next board, which may or may not review them as they are already receiving a high volume of new submissions. If you have a choice, submit in the spring.
While risky, some authors have had success holding their articles until late in September to interest editors looking to fill out fall issues. A newly-received work can be more appealing than sorting through a backlog of old submissions.
Peer-reviewed journals do not necessarily conform to this publishing schedule. As they may require exclusive submission in paper format, the off-season from December to March may be a good time to consider submitting articles here. Back to top
Journals submission standards tend to require double-spaced documents, though some specify triple spacing and endnoting. Articles should be Bluebooked properly and in standard-type font (Times New Roman, 12 point, and footnotes in either 12 or 10 point). One statistic indicated that 90% of the journals require Bluebook format and those that do not require it will accept it. It continues to be the standard in the field. Published authors and some law review editors indicate that articles submitted in book or journal page formatting are acceptable and have certain advantages. This format entails editing the document so that it looks like a book page from a law review. There is an electronic template for this at Professor Volokh's Academic Legal Writing web site.
While formerly article length varied from 50 to 80 pages, some editors from top-ranking law reviews have established new maximum length restrictions, usually around 30,000 words. Review each journal's submission guidelines for word or page limits. Back to top
The article being submitted should be accompanied by a cover letter. The cover letter gives a synopsis of the article, describes what makes it a unique work, and supplies background information where it may be useful. It should be provocative and interesting. Samples are available in Volokh's Academic Legal Writing.
In many cases, a CV or resume is requested or considered helpful as editors seek to establish the affiliation and credibility of their authors. Consider sending a brief list of your publications with your submission and include an account of your experience in the field so that your expertise is easily noted. Back to top
Do not underestimate the importance of a well-written abstract and introduction for your work. Student editors have identified author affiliation and the work’s introduction as elements crucial to an offer to publish. Consider your audience as you write the introduction. Topics with current relevance and timely references make good first impressions.
If you are looking to write an article but do not have a specific topic in mind, you might propose a reply to an existing article. It is best to check with the journal and the original author before proceeding. Some authors appreciate a reply to their work. It generally means they will have an additional opportunity to publish a reply to the reply.
Footnotes are an important component of your submission. They should be as clean and complete as possible. (For your initial submission, you might try using a dummy number for citations that are not yet complete and leaving out extra content to be added in later drafts. It saves space and looks neat. Make sure that you remember your dummy number so that it can be easily edited before final submission).
You might find that an attribution footnote thanking colleagues who have reviewed your pre-published article is beneficial to your work and noticed by editors. Feedback from a respected name in the field gives your article even more value. Sending your articles to friends and colleagues with a request for their input is a means of networking and may help establish relationships with other academics with similar interests. Comments collected in SSRN can be included among the attributions as well. Back to top
Article submissions are usually driven by journal rankings. Rankings are based on the number of times a journal is cited, prominence of its contributing authors, and prestige of the associated law school. Though it is generally agreed that the rankings in U.S. News & World Report are flawed, the information does provide a notion of a school's reputation. Most of the electronic article submission sites addressed below have some limited ranking ability. Back to top
It is generally considered that the main law review of a law school publishes only pieces from professors and students on that law review. While this is not always the case, it is more difficult to get your article published in a law school's main law review. Chances of having your submission reviewed and accepted for publication increase if you look to specialty law reviews and peer-reviewed journals. Often such journals focus on a particular area of the law or look for a particular social science methodology. However, many do not accept electronic submission.
Another consideration is whether the journals to which you are submitting your article are available in places where scholars will find, and hopefully cite to, their contents. While rankings of law schools' main law reviews may be fairly well known, specialty journals and peer-reviewed titles are worth further research. Check the following resources to see where specific journals are available.
Unlike other disciplines, it is not uncommon to submit law review articles to multiple publishers at a time. In fact, the typical route is to start by submitting to a large number of journals (some sources indicate 50 submissions for a law professor, many suggest 100 or more).
There are web sites that facilitate submission of articles to multiple journals. Most maintain current contact information and submission rules. These are low cost or free services. For those journals that do not accept electronic submission, check their web site to learn their submission requirements. Specialty and peer-review journals are more likely to fall into this category. You should review the instructions to authors at any site that you use so that you are aware of any limitations.
Top 25 journals may prefer that you submit electronically through their web pages because their software has been developed to pull specific information into reports to allow for easier tracking of submissions, though developments in software are making submissions to these reviews through electronic submission services possible. Other journals allow electronic submission only from select sources
When you are submitting to multiple journals on your own, that is, not using ExpressO or Scholastica, you may still submit your materials to several journals at one time by putting all of the journals' email addresses in the Blind Copy field of your email message. In the To: field, put your own email address. Those who receive the email will see only their own address when they open your email message. Back to top
A low cost submission service from the Berkeley Electronic Press, nearly 800 law journals in print currently accept submissions via ExpressO. An electronic submission costs around $2.95/journal.
There are some journals that have lifted their restrictions on electronic submission to include only those articles submitted through ExpressO. Note, however, that some blog entries (mostly from student law review editors) have hinted that one of the drawbacks of ExpressO is that it has a poor relationship with top publishers because their software programs do not integrate. ExpressO identifies those titles in their database with a double cross so that you may decide whether to submit directly. Titles with a single cross accept paper submission only. See Author FAQs for other helpful hints, like how to address a cover letter for multiple submissions. Our college has an institutional account that covers faculty article submission. Select University of Wyoming College of Law from the drop down menu when arranging payment. Use your uwyo.edu email account when submitting to ExpressO. Back to top
Scholastica is a newer submission service for law review articles. It has grown to include many top law reviews, and some law review editorial boards now accept submissions through Scholastica only. The submission cost is $5.00/journal, which editors find reduces the flood of submissions from authors trying to cover the market. Our college also has an institutional account for article submission to Scholastica. You may select University of Wyoming College of Law during the payment process. Use your uwyo.edu email account when submitting to Scholastica.
This web site facilitates article submission (including online journals) by collecting links and information for electronic submission. It also allows sorting by journal rank, provides impact-factor which shows the average number of citations to articles in each journal, and computes cites per cost (average yearly number of cites to a journal divided by its annual cost). Journals may be limited by peer-edited, refereed, and specialized titles. Be sure to check out the information pages to ensure an understanding of the service. Back to top
Self-promotion can affect how editorial boards view your work. Distributing your work to others for feedback, either through email or through SSRN may not only improve your article, but it could provide content for your cover letter. Did your current submission attract a lot of attention in SelectedWorks or SSRN? Maybe you were a top author for a week. Perhaps these sites can help you collect data on the use of your other published works, data that might establish you as an expert or up-and-coming scholar in the field. Once you establish a profile in HeinOnline, SelectedWorks, or SSRN, updating the page with information is easy—especially since you may ask a librarian for assistance.
Author Profile Pages are available in HeinOnline. The page features an author’s articles and uses ScholarCheck to determine an author’s rank in HeinOnline. Ranking is based on the number of times an article has been cited by other articles and cases (case citation data is generated by FastCase); the number of times an article has been accessed by other HeinOnline users within a rolling 12-month period; and the number of times an article has been cited in the past ten years. The Authors Portal in HeinOnline lists the top 250 authors based on the above criteria. If an author already has articles in HeinOnline, a basic version of the page will have been created automatically. Authors can update their profile by adding a photo, biographical information, affiliation, and social media links. To review your page or set up an Author Profile Page in HeinOnline, visit http://home.heinonline.org/author-profile-setup-request.
Wyoming Scholars Repository (WySR) is a service providing open access to works produced by the University of Wyoming faculty, researchers, and students. The goal of WySR is to increase the visibility of UW’s scholarship and contribute to the ongoing development of knowledge. UW faculty and students may create a Selected Works homepage to highlight and share their scholarship and academic activities. Our librarians can assist you with establishing a web page and uploading your work.
SSRN is a collaborative of authors devoted to rapid dissemination of social science research, including legal scholarship. SSRN allows users to distribute working papers and published articles and track how many times the article is viewed. When you submit a new work to SSRN for publication, you may also select to have the abstract published in one of SSRN’s abstract eJournals. An eJournal is an email sent to subscribers containing abstracts of papers recently submitted. Each paper displays a title, author, and abstract of the paper along with a link to download the full text paper.
Uploading your pre-published article to SSRN can make it available to student editors checking SSRN for articles of interest. If you choose to upload your article to SSRN, do the appropriate networking to raise interest in your work. Let your colleagues and others in your area of specialization know that your article is posted and link to the work from your Selected Works page or faculty web site. See submission instructions on the SSRN web site or contact a librarian to assist you with establishing an account and submitting your papers.
Though a lot of research may go into deciding where to submit your article, what you are seeking foremost is an offer. Once an offer is made, there is an opportunity to improve on it by requesting an expedited review. An offer will include a deadline, usually around two weeks. It is accepted practice to contact higher-ranking journals and request an expedited review explaining that an offer has been made to publish your article and asking the editors to review it before the deadline for possible publication. Expedited reviews increase the opportunity to publish in high-end law reviews because 1) expedited articles are read first to accommodate the deadline, and 2) there is an assumption of quality of the article once an offer to publish has been extended.
If a new offer is extended from a lower-end journal, it is not uncommon to re-expedite to high-end journals, explaining that there is a new deadline and allowing the opportunity to alert the editors that the article is in demand.
It may not take an official offer of publication to expedite review of your article. If you have word that your article has made it to the advance review stage, some higher-ranked journals may be willing to take a look at it. Also the number of offers you receive for publication can play a factor in the process of expediting review. Note, however, that law review boards are taking actions to counteract this practice. Some of the top fifty ranked reviews are asking for exclusive submissions, and other smaller journals are limiting the time to accept an offer of publication to one week.
When making an expediting request through email, authors should attach an electronic copy of the article for the convenience of the editors. Back to top
While copyright belongs to the creator, when articles are accepted for publication, often authors sign over their rights to the publisher. Authors can retain rights in their work, but it may require some negotiation with the publisher at the time that an acceptance is offered. Unless you retain certain rights, you cannot distribute or even post a copy of your work without publisher permission. The coalition SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) is a leading voice in assisting authors to retain their rights. SPARC’s web site discusses how to review your publication agreement and negotiate with the publisher. Here you may link to an Author Addendum that modified the publisher’s agreement and allows you to keep key rights to your articles. Or you may choose to use the Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Engine to generate a customized addendum to your publisher’s contract.
If you would like to post your work in SSRN, SelectedWorks, or on your own web site but you are not certain whether you have retained the rights to do so, you can search your publisher’s policies on Sherpa/Romeo. If you are still not certain, you may decide not to risk posting the article. However, if it is already available online through one of the library databases, you may still link to it.
There are a number of very useful online and print resources that supply excellent tips and online links for article submissions, many of which were discussed above. Though most of these focus on student authors, in nearly all cases the compilers state that their information is useful for all authors.
This web site serves as an annotated bibliography for basic submission questions.
This site is a collects links to law review directories, writing tips, and article submission services.
Eugene Volokh, Academic Legal Writing: Law Review Articles, Student Notes, Seminar Papers, and Getting on Law Review (4th ed., Foundation Press 2010) Reserve KF 250.V65 2010 (older editions in Treatises Room).
An excellent resource for getting papers published, this book is cited in many of the web sites above. In addition to tips for selecting and improving topics, Volokh gives hints for improving writing, using evidence, cite-checking, working with editors, excellent submission assistance, and there is a section specifically written for the editors of law reviews. The appendices include a listing of clumsy words, sample cover letters, and exercises and answers.
Elizabeth Fajans and Mary R. Falk, Scholarly Writing for Law Students : Seminar Papers, Law Review Notes, and Law Review Competition (4th ed., West 2011). KF 250 .F35 2011
This book is useful for its discussion of choosing a topic and writing and researching a polished paper. There is an appendix with a listing of scholarly writing workshops and seminars.
Jessica L. Clark and Kristen E. Murray, Scholarly Writing: Ideas, Examples, and Execution (2d ed. 2012). Reserve KF 250 .C528 2012
The book walks students through a five-step process for researching and writing scholarly papers and follows five published student papers from idea to final execution as a method of illustrating the principles advocated in the text. Back to top
Leah M. Christensen & Julie A. Oseid, Navigating the Law Review Article Selection Process: an Empirical Study of Those with All the Power—Student Editors, 59 S.C. L. Rev. 175 (2007).
Jerold H. Israel, The Seven Habits of a Highly Effective Scholar, 102 Mich. L. Rev. 1701 (2004).
A tribute to Yale Kamisar describing his "modus operandi," this has suggestions for all writers.
Nancy Levit, Scholarship Advice for New Law Professors in the Electronic Age, 16 Widener L.J. 947 (2007).