Attacking Bias in Law Reviews: Jonathan Gingerich on Blind Review

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With all the attention here on the paucity of female authors in the top law reviews, here’s an interesting paper from Jonathan Gingerich calling for blind review as the norm at law reviews:

A number of studies suggest that non-blind review of manuscripts submitted to professional journals (including law journals) disadvantages female authors relative to blind review. Studies also suggest that non-blind review encourages professional journals (and particularly law journals) to make decisions about manuscripts on the basis of letterhead prestige rather than article quality, which can make it difficult for younger scholars to publish their work even when it is quite good. There are some costs to adopting a blind review policy, including the administrative costs of ensuring that an article is appropriately blinded before it is reviewed. But these costs are likely outweighed by the benefits of adopting a blind review model, such as decreased reliance on letterhead prestige, better perceptions of the journal’s review process by potential authors, and, theoretically, publication of higher quality articles. In this paper, I explore the of bias in student edited law reviews, survey literature on blind review from other disciplines, and recommend that student run law reviews adopt the following policy:

“We review submissions anonymously. We redact identifying information from submissions to ensure that no editor who participates in making any decision relating to whether a particular submission will be published knows the author’s name, affiliation, academic credentials, prior publications, or pending publication offers. We request that authors submit manuscripts that are suitable for blind review.”

You can download it here.

– David S. Cohen

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