I have at least one reader! He sent me a portion of an article he is writing. It seems to fit in with the spirit of this blog. Here it is:
“Dear Top 10 Law Review,
I have carefully considered publishing in your journal my article “Acrobatics in the Supreme Court: A Contortionist View of Constitutional Law” (alternative title: I need to publish in a top 10 law review for tenure and for external validation to boost my self-esteem). Unfortunately, I am unable to submit the article for publication to you. As you know, there are approximately three billion law journals under my consideration, and I am only able to publish one to three articles per year. As a consequence, I must reject many fine journals that might give my piece “thoughtful” or “careful” consideration.
Unlike the standard form rejection letters that I have received from you and other journals in the past, allow me to take the time to express the problem I have with submitting to fine journals such as yours.
In my previous rejection letter from you, you stated that you had “carefully considered” my article. This I found to be interesting, as I had just submitted the article via ExpressO the previous day. Thus, your careful consideration took less than twenty-four hours. Other journals took mere hours.
It is possible that you read my piece in a twenty-four hour period, but I really do not think a single reading of an article is “careful consideration.” Were my ideas whacky? Did the conclusions follow from the foundations I established? Was my proposed remedy too extreme? Did you think that it just was unworkable? I will never know because you simply cannot provide me with that type of information. As you point out, you receive over 3,000 submissions a year. If you are “carefully considering” all of those, then you are likely devoting your enormous staff of hundreds to reading each and every piece “carefully.”
You are not the only article editor who is so remarkably efficient in careful review and consideration of elaborate and complex pieces. In the course of 24 hours, I received five rejections from your peer schools, suggesting that they are equally efficient rivals in terms of reading articles rapidly and giving them thoughtful consideration.
Between you and me, I don’t really think you read them. Even if you tried to convince me all the editors took a speed reading course.
Some people have suggested that you don’t really read the 3,000 articles you receive each year (within the twenty four hour window). Some have suggested that you use proxies in lieu of actually reading the article. Such proxies might include the school from which the author hails, the educational background of the author, whether the author is an academic or a practitioner, and whether or not the author has a publication history.
I fail on the first two grounds. I don’t at an Ivy League school. I teach at a very fine school, but you lack information sufficient to make that determination.
Also, I graduated from the University of Inner City, which by all accounts is a fine school not covered at all in Ivy. I do not know where it falls in the U.S. News and World Report Rankings. It is a fine institution in a city of great renown. Sadly, I suspect that you might be uncomfortable with the interdisciplinary forms of education that might come from living in such an urban environment, choosing instead the familiar—people hailing from your own institutions.
I am sure you are aware of the serious problem of using as a proxy the school of origin of the professor. If you view the school as a signal of quality, then by publishing those professors from higher ranked schools you are actually reinforcing the ranking mechanism. Your “proxy” for quality is the same sort of one that is causing me to write to you on a poorly functioning computer of popular renown, disrupting my writing process. The use of the school of origin is problematic for the same reasons.
By the way, you have given me and every other law professor a brilliant idea on how to cut our grading time. We should just give grades based upon the undergraduate school of the student! Doesn’t that sound reasonable? Or would you prefer we actually grade your exam on its merits?
I hope I will consider sending future articles to you. Then again, I might just invert the whole U.S. News Rankings and submit to the bottom tier. They are all on Westlaw and Lexis too, right? They might even have time to read my article given that they receive fewer submissions.