Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A new take on article selection for law reviews

One of my colleagues at UNLV, Rachel Anderson, has posted an intriguing article on SSRN about market failure in the selection of articles for law reviews. See here for the draft.


Anonymous said...

This Article is really terrible and I am progressive. Prof. Anderson antecdotally discusses her research assistants finding "safe" scholarship without presenting any data. Also, the biggest problem with this Article is that Prof. Anderson's conclusion that there is a bias toward "safe scholarship" is wrong unless she could also quantify the pool from which law reviewers choose.

I peer review for a very leading journal. We might be construed as being biased toward "safe scholarship" but that is mostly what we receive. We, however, actively solicit "dissenting" scholarship.

I write this as a big fan of yours. If you are going to link to an article why not explain why it is so intriguing rather than just try to build up UNLV. Your addition to UNLV made me rank the school higher in my US News rankings. Reading this article just took away, I think, that marginal gain.

This is the best you can do in hiring? Hiring someone who had not published an article on her own before she was hired? No school does that anymore.

I do not even know Prof. Anderson but this Article is quite poor social science.

Nancy Rapoport said...

Thanks for your comment--I have to disagree with you both about the substance of Prof. Anderson's article and about her credentials, but I think it's clear that she's hit a nerve with her approach, which is why I wanted to call people's attention to her article. Take a look at Tuan's article next, and let's see what you think of his.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for your thoughtful response.

What struck a nerve for me in Professor Anderson's article was not her conclusion. I am comfortable with it. It is the fact that she found that the tendency of student law review editors to publish safe scholarship attributable to bias without any evidence that bias rather than the pool of articles submitted is the cause. To me, it is another example in law review scholarship of an author drawing a conclusion and then finding cites to try to back it up without collecting the evidence and then trying to reach a conclusion from the evidence.

As far as her qualifications are concerned, schools are not hiring faculty to teach business associations primarily without having published at least one solo-authored (and perhaps two) articles in that field except to try to achieve diversity. Prof. Anderson was hired without having authored an article in the business field, let alone any article, by herself.

We can disagree. I think Prof. Sahamon's article IS truly intriguing. I agree with parts, disagree with parts, but he has evidence for his conclusions. Thank you for recommending that I read it.

And as to your previous post about why posters post anonymously, there is not truly academic freedom in this field, especially for untenured faculty, as some recent instances show. I'd love for you to do a post on this point alone. How can junior scholars speak out without fear of retribution?

Get back into deaning. There are probably many schools that would appreciate you.

Nancy Rapoport said...

Thanks, Anonymous--I'm really torn about my decision to allow anonymous posting. On the one hand, if people feel constrained to say what they believe for fear or retaliation at their home institutions, that's a sad state of affairs. On the other hand, far more people use the shield of anonymity for really nasty attacks than seem to use it for fear of repercussions. I don't want to foster a haven for bullies, but I do want to foster a haven for people who--for some reason--fear bullies elsewhere.

As for deaning again, thanks, but I'm having way too much fun as a professor. The only drawback to returning to the faculty has been my annoying tendency to overcommit to projects (but then again, I did that as a dean, too).

Anonymous said...


I do not know what you should do about anonymous posting. There are several faculty at my insitution who in the mantra of "diversity" and "progressiveness" shun those who disagree with them. It is sad.