Sunday, February 25, 2007

Comment & Article Submissions

I am currently reviewing submissions for my journal, so I wanted to offer a tip to professors/students/practitioners who are considering submitting their pieces to journals. I find myself asking two questions whenever I read a submission, and the high quality articles invariably address them: Why now? So what?

1. Why now? Let the reader know what makes your article particularly timely. The subject matter certainly does not need to dominate current legal discussions, but keeping this simple question in mind will help you reach out to journals that are seeking to make an impact on the development of the law, assert/maintain relevance to continuing legal debates, and it will generally provide the reader with a more refined understanding of the scope and application of your particular argument. Include this in your cover letter, as it will help the editor who is reviewing your submission keep the argument in context.

2. So what? Articulate the logical extensions of your argument and what jurisprudential impact the argument will deliver. Never lose sight of this, and again, include it in your cover letter.

The sheer number of submissions, facilitated by programs like ExpressO, will make it more likely that a quality article will not get the attention it deserves if the author does not take full advantage of a cover letter that can clearly & succinctly answer the two questions above. By no means are these the only considerations an articles editor should keep in mind, but an author does herself an injustice by not clearly outlining them in either an abstract or a cover letter.

Any thoughts on this? Other journal editors have suggestions?


Blogger Anthony Ciolli said...

Not related to this topic per se, but I'm curious to hear if/how you've treated submissions differently based on the author (faculty vs. practitioner vs. student).

2/25/2007 11:39 PM  
Blogger N.J.L.S. said...

All submissions are reviewed regardless of the author's CV. Student pieces are considered for publication, though they admittedly have higher hurdle to clear, and an Comment would have to be particularly compelling answers to the questions originally posed. I probably tend to be more lenient towards mediocre faculty pieces (at least w/ respect to spending more time working through the article) than I would otherwise, but in the end, a quality article will receive an offer, regardless of author.

2/26/2007 5:01 PM  
Blogger Nico Jacobellis said...

I have to say I looked for these factors in cover letters too when i was an editor on L.R., but it seemed they all said pretty much the same thing: "No one has addressed ___. This article fills that void." Except in areas I knew something about (which still isn't many) I would just have to take this at face value. For that reason I found myself using other heuristics, such as writing quality (of course, not a bad one), school rank, prior publications, etc.

2/27/2007 7:00 AM  
Blogger N.J.L.S. said...

One strategy that I have used in limited dose is an abbreviated preemption check. If an article is reviewing a particular Supreme Court case, I perform a Lexis search in all Law Reviews. (This works most effectively with more recent cases simply b/c it keeps the number of returns low.) If I get fifty or so articles back, then I would at least expect the piece under consideration to at least mention some of those articles -- it would at least show an attempt to improve upon existing scholarship. Without such cross-references, I doubt that the author genuinely set out to pave new inroads into a well covered area of the law.

2/27/2007 7:47 AM  
Blogger amit said...

nice article

7/14/2009 1:43 AM  

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