A couple of years ago, we posted about an exciting new endeavor called the Peer Reviewed Scholarship Marketplace (“PRSM”). I was wondering how the project was going, so I contacted the PRSM administrator to find out. Mark Ingram and Justin Bagwell, the current and former Administrators, were happy to provide an update on the progress of the endeavor.
Et Seq.: How many faculty do you have serving as reviewers now? Are they mostly from law schools, or do you have people from other disciplines (e.g. to deal with non-law or interdisciplinary scholarship)? Do you have people specifically qualified for empirical studies work?
Mark: As for reviewers, currently we have ~60 reviewers from law schools across the nation who have expressed interest through our website in serving as reviewers. We have 10 reviewers who work in government or private practice, and there are a handful of reviewers from medical schools, as well. Only one of our potential reviewers indicated that his expertise is “quantitative/empirical methods.” We keep a list of all “Reviewer Requests” received through the website, and, of course, we may also contact authorities in a particular field if we are unable to retain an adequate number of qualified reviewers from our list for a particular article.
Et Seq.: What do you think incentivizes reviewers to join? What do you think motivates authors?
Mark: I think reviewers as well as authors are motivated by their support for peer review within legal scholarship. In addition to the “Reviewer Requests” that we receive through the website we also receive “Author Requests” from authors seeking more information about submitting an article to PRSM. These authors usually indicate their willingness to serve as reviewers on this form, as well. Both of the reviewers who reviewed our latest submission expressed their support for PRSM (“PRSM is a great endeavour.”) and their appreciation of our effort to integrate peer review into the article selection process (“I think it is great that you are doing peer review.”).
Justin: I think that reviewers most often join PRSM just out of a desire to contribute to the profession. Reviewers perform a vital function by giving journals guidance in selecting their articles. I think it would be fair to say that they perform a type of “gate keeping” function by commenting on the novelty and substantive quality of the article. I think that an author’s motivation is somewhat different from a reviewer’s. Most often I think authors seek to have their article given a heightened degree of credibility by having their peers comment on it. Also, I think many of the authors that have submitted articles through PRSM have chosen to do so because they recognize the need for a peer review element in legal scholarship. They may see their submissions as a step in the direction that they believe legal scholarship should go.
Et Seq.: How has the author experience been? What is their feedback?
Justin: For the most part, authors have been very complimentary of the peer review process. They have generally been understanding of the extended timeline that is necessary for finding reviewers and completing reviews. All have been grateful for the opportunity to have their articles reviewed. Even when an author has not had their article selected for publication, they have been grateful for the experience and the opportunity to receive feedback.
Et Seq.: Have any of the other member journals (http://www.legalpeerreview.org/members.php) published issues using the service?
Justin: As far as I know, no other journal has published an entire issue using the PRSM service. However, I didn’t have any contact with either the author or the journals after the review process was complete so it is possible that some articles may have been published without my knowledge.
Mark: To my knowledge, our latest submission received offers from some of our members and should appear in one of our member journals soon. It’s up to the member journals whether to indicate that a particular article has been peer reviewed, but keep your eyes peeled for the newest peer-reviewed article in the coming months.
Et Seq.: Do you have any new journals joining?
Mark: Our newest members are Nevada Law Journal and Fordham Law Review, which brings the total number to thirteen. I am currently in contact with new Editors-in-Chief across the nation in an effort to add more members to our consortium. Our long-term goals have always been to add more members and to secure more article submissions.
For those interested in peer review (and other issues) in law reviews, you might want to take a look at a series “law review review” at the PrawfsBlawg. This week, there is an interview with an editor at the Stanford Law Review about its experimentation with peer review.