Data on law review submissions - with graphs!

As we enter the busy fall submission season for law reviews, it seemed like a good time to update data from our 2015 post Law Review Article Submissions Insights. I know authors and editors alike are keen to see data-driven patterns, norms, and trends around submitting articles to law reviews on Scholastica. We also have richer data given that more law journals than ever are accepting articles via Scholastica.

This is the first in a series of data-related posts. The series will start with data about submissions (this post), followed by a post about decision-making behavior, and ending with a look at expedited decision requests (a unique feature to the law review publication process).

When do authors submit articles to law reviews?

To answer this question, I aggregated all submissions to law journals using Scholastica from 2012 to 2016 and calculated the percent of total submissions that were created for each day of the year (e.g. all submissions on January 1st across all years).

Graph of all law review submissions by day

I’ll highlight a few patterns I noticed:

  • There are two clear periods of law review submissions: spring submissions February-April and fall submissions in August-September.
  • There are clear spikes on February 1st and August 1st. These weeks have ~10x more submissions than the previous week, and submission volume grows from these marked starting points.
  • The largest volume submission days are roughly two weeks into each period: February 16th and August 17th. These dates are mildly affected by the day of the week: if those dates fall on the weekend, the next weekday is heavier than the weekend date.
  • More total article submissions happen in the spring compared to the fall. The first half of the year sees approximately 60% of all submissions, and law reviews receive approximately 40% of article submissions in the second half of the calendar year.

When do law reviews receive articles, based on their ranking?

I used the Washington & Lee law journal rankings to look for any submission differences by journal rank. Some methodological notes:

  1. The rankings are mostly taken from the 2016 data, but some are likely from the 2015 rankings. I didn’t have the chance to do an intensive data cleaning.
  2. I only used data for general law reviews and did not include specialty law journals who have their own separate rankings. It’s also my impression that authors tend to focus more on rankings with general law reviews than with specialty journals, so scoping the data seemed appropriate.
  3. I chose to divide journals into rankings in groups of 25. This does not exactly reflect how authors sometimes refer to ‘top-20’ and ‘top-50’ and ‘top-100’ journals, but I wanted to keep the group size consistent (25 journals per group) and look for differences based on a single variable (ranking) rather than pre-suppose differences at ranks 20, 50, and 100.
  4. I’ll refer to a journal ranked closer to 1 as ‘higher ranked’ and a journal ranked closer to 500 as ‘lower ranked’ (sorry for any confusion).

I had trouble eyeballing the differences, so made this handy-dandy GIF to animate the charts:

Animation of submissions by ranking

You’ll notice that as rankings move from low integers to larger integers (or from higher-ranked journals to lower-ranked journals), the percent of submissions received February 1 and August 1 generally decreases. My read is that submissions are slightly more spread out across the year for lower ranked journals, though still heavily concentrated in those two periods.

A related observation: the between-submission-season periods (May-July and October-December) get noticably more active with lower ranked journals. Those periods get spikier and noisier in the GIF, which represents more submissions in those between-submission-season times. Many lower ranked journals review articles year-round, which might also influence the numbers.

Here are the individual graphs that make up the GIF:

Submissions to law reviews ranked 1-25
Submissions to law reviews ranked 26-50
Submissions to law reviews ranked 51-75
Submissions to law reviews ranked 76-100
Submissions to law reviews ranked 101-125
Submissions to law reviews ranked 126-150

What days of the week do authors submit articles?

Graph of law review submissions by day of the week

Mondays and Fridays are generally higher volume than other weekdays, and weekdays are noticably busier than weekends. Sundays are the lowest-volume article submission day, and Mondays see an average of 125% more submissions than Sundays.

That’s all the updated data for now - more in the next blog post.

Brian Cody

This post was written by Brian Cody, Scholastica Co-Founder and CEO