Following up from the first data post in this series, I wanted to look at a feature that is unique to law reviews within the larger academic publishing space: expedited decision requests. For those not familiar, law reviews allow authors to simultaneously submit their article to multiple journals at once, and as they receive publication offers the authors can share that with other journals (most commonly higher-ranked journals) in the hope of getting additional publication offers. Publication offers have a deadline, and expedited decision requests (“expedites”) also have deadlines which generally match the publication offer deadline (e.g. I receive an offer that expires in a week, so I tell better ranked journals that I would like a decision from them within 1 week).
Note: I’ll use the terms “submission” and “article” interchangeably.
As one might expect, expedited decision requests track when articles are submitted, but are generally delayed by about 2-3 weeks.
When compared to the submissions graph in the first data post, while submissions have dramatically died down by mid-March, expedited decision requests are still being created at a noticeable clip into the first week of April. This makes sense given that law review editors need time to read papers and make publication offers, and authors need time to create expedited decision requests.
Law review editors give varying deadlines for authors to accept publication offers, ranging from same-day to multiple weeks, and these deadlines are reflected in the expedite request deadlines authors send to other law reviews.
The next chart shows the distribution of days from when an expedited request is sent to the corresponding deadline.
Approximately one-third of all expedite requests have a deadline 6-7 days from when the request is sent. Another third gives 1-5 days, and the remaining third are 8-20 days (only about 1% of deadlines expire within 24 hours).
The distribution of expedite request deadlines lag by about a week behind when expedites are created, as seen in the following GIF:
How many expedited decision requests are sent? I pulled some basic statistics about expedited decision requests that offer insight towards answering this question:
- 45.69% of submissions receive 0 expedite requests
- 54% of submissions that do get an expedite request receive only 1 expedite requests
- 24% of submissions that do get an expedite request receive exactly 2 expedite requests
- 11% of submissions that do get an expedite request receive exactly 3 expedite requests
- There is an average of 0.91 expedite requests per article (so almost the same number of expedited decision requests are created as articles are submitted)
- For submissions that do receive at least 1 expedited decision request (which is about half of all articles), they receive an average of 1.88 expedite requests per article
As a law review editor, on average half your submissions will submit no expedited decision requests, and for the other half 87% of those will have 1-3 expedited decision requests. And given that there are 0.91 expedite requests per article, this means that there are almost as many expedited decision requests sent as manuscript submissions!
Relative to when an article is submitted to a law review, when should an editor expect to receive expedited decision requests?
I was surprised that while the first week after submission is busier for expedited decision requests, the second week is only marginally less busy. Even the third week is only one-third less active than the second week - though after the third week new expedited decision requests dramatically decline.
Looking at all the data, a few takeaways for law review editors regarding expedited decision requests:
- Not all papers receive expedite requests (only about half do)
- For the submissions that do receive expedite requests, they generally come within the first 2-3 weeks after submission
- Deadlines to respond are generally about a week
- BUT there’s quite a bit of variability, so it wouldn’t be inconceivable to have a 24-hour (or shorter) deadline 6 weeks after submissions