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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 to September and March to April are the most productive times of the year to submit materials for publication. Some authors submit as early as mid-February. 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, that 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.
If you are planning to submit in the spring and will be soliciting comments on your work, a tentative schedule would be: February 5 - complete draft; February 6 - send to faculty mentors for comment; February 24 - receive comments back; February 25-March 5 - incorporate suggested changes and edits from comments; March 6 - prepare and send out to journals.
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. It may be a good idea to review journal homepages for word or page limits. Back to top
The articles 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. You should 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. Some authors appreciate being approached about your reply to their work. It generally means they will have an additional opportunity to publish a reply to the reply. It is a good idea to check with the journal and the original author before proceeding.
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. Some of the submission web sites below also have tools to allow authors to calculate means of evaluating journals before submission. Most of the electronic article submission sites addressed below have some limited ranking ability as well. 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. Deanna Barmakian at Harvard Law School recommends you ask yourself these questions before submitting to a journal:
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 or use Ulrich's International Periodical Directory or Directory of Law Reviews and Scholarly Legal Periodicals to learn their 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, and a few require paper submissions. It is necessary for authors to be familiar with each journal's requirements.
When you are submitting to multiple journals on your own, that is, not using ExpressO, you will probably want to put 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 $2.20/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. You may select University of Wyoming College of Law from the drop down menu when arranging payment. Back to top
Scholastica is a newer submission service for law review articles. It has grown to include many top law reviews, and a few 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.
At this site papers may be submitted to over 500 law journals. 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
SSRN's eSubmission is a free service allowing you to submit a paper to over 300 law reviews that allow electronic submission. The eSubmission service allows users to send customized messages to each journal, and to submit to different journals at different times. To use eSubmission, you must first submit your paper or an abstract of your paper to the SSRN eLibrary and the editors will decide on its inclusion.
Uploading your pre-published article to SSRN can have other positive effects. Some student editors check SSRN for the article to see whether it has received many views. 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 see whether your college of university maintains a repository of faculty publications where the link may be added. Watch for references to software programs that serve this purpose, such as DSpace, Eprints, Fedora, Digital Commons, and SimplDL.Back to top
This resource lists editorial addresses, contact information, and frequency of U.S.-based, scholarly publications that accept unsolicited submissions, including law reviews and subject-specialized law journals from ABA-accredited law schools; peer-reviewed law journals; selected trade journals; and most university presses. Available in print in REFERENCE KF 8 .D574. Back to top
Not specific to law, Ulrich's describes international periodicals in all disciplines. It includes newspapers, bar journals, and trade journals and usually provides a description, contact information, circulation figures, abstracting and indexing services, and publishers' web sites. Available in print at WORKROOM Z 6941 .U51. Ask at the Circulation Desk. Back to top
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 expediting, authors should attach an electronic copy if they are making the expedite request by e-mail for the convenience of the editors. Back to top
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 legal 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 2012Back 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.
Debra Kaufman, Writing Research Results for Publication, 84 l. Libr. J. 617 (1992)
The author is a former editorial assistant for Law Library Journal. Her article discusses what makes a manuscript publishable and provides numerous tips on the publication process.
Nancy Levit, Scholarship Advice for New Law Professors in the Electronic Age, 16 Widener L.J. 947 (2007).
Gail Levi Richmond, Advice to the Untenured, 13 Nova L. Rev. 79 (1988).
The article gives advice on publishing, service, and teaching for new faculty. Back to top