How quickly some journals give offers

Scott Gerber s-gerber at
Thu Nov 3 15:28:53 PST 2005

I agree with Sean Wilson.  I would add that some peer reviewers for
political science journals can be less favorably disposed to a submission
if they don't "recognize" it as something submitted by someone in their
camp.  Unlike law reviews, there aren't many spots available for law and
courts pieces in, say, the American Political Science Review and some
reviewers don't want to lose a spot to someone whose work they don't


Sean Wilson wrote:
Well, I would also add this: that perception may be somewhat misleading.
What also happens in peer review in political science -- at least in the
judicial politics field -- is that certain academic camps throw darts at
conclusions that they don't want to see published.  I have a piece that is
circulating now that re-models Jeffrey Segal's work in a way that is
clearly more methodologically sound and produces new conclusions about the
inferences that can be drawn from Segal and Spaeth's own data. The reviews
I get appear to come from "camps." Although it is true that many comments
are indeed helpful, the reviewers also a great deal of issue deflection and
contradictory assertions. People working in a game theory paradigm argue
that Segal and Spaeth's bivariate model is not important to the literature
(which is not true as a factual matter); and people from an attitudinal
camp argue that the bivariate model is just fine and dandy if you simply
supplement it with tools to correct for ecological inference or a
multi-level analysis. This, of course, is issue deflection -- one doesn't
need to correct and tinker if  one avoids it in the first place. And of
course, some reviews are very favorable.
So I would say this: peer review is not always (100%) quality review; it
can also suppress the production of new ideas and keep good information
from getting into the marketplace of ideas -- at least temporarily. This is
especially where the work purports to shift the paradigm in a direction
that many academics, frankly, do not want to go. I bet law reviews are more
likely to publish ground-breaking or "loud" assertions that are appropriate
scholarly work under the auspices of being more open minded. Legal culture
loves criticism. The peer review process, I think, is more likely to censor
new things until it has a better fix on it -- unless, of course, you are
big name from a big institution, in which case the reviews really are not
anonymous (because ! people know each other's work). .
So I think the perception of peer review as quality review is not 100%
accurate. Again, though, I'm not complaining (too much) because some of the
feedback is genuinely good.              

Howard Schweber <schweber at> wrote:
This is one of the reasons publication in law reviews is often not taken 
seriously in departments of history or political science. In those fields, 
articles can only be submitted to a single journal, which may take months 
or even years to reach a decision. My personal record: an article that 
was accepted by Law & Society Review 25 months after it was submitted.

Howard Schweber

Scott Gerber
Law College
Ohio Northern University
Ada, OH 45810

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