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Publishing for Legal Scholars

A guide to publishing for legal scholars

The Author Agreement

Transfering Copyright vs. Granting a License

It is preferable to keep your copyright on an article, but a number of journals, especially from commercial publishers, require that you transfer the copyright to them. If you do transfer your copyright, look for language about the rights the journal licenses back to you, especially the ability to re-use your work in other publications. Actively negotiating for the right to publicly post your article, or at least a pre-publication version of your article, is the best way to increase its visibility.

Permissions to Post Your Article Elsewhere

Even if you keep your copyright, you will likely be granting the publisher a license to disseminate the work in various formats. Be cognizant of contract terms granting an exclusive license.

However you structure your agreement, it is a good idea to have specific language about what can be posted to an institutional repository, and what can be posted to SSRN, and when it can be posted.

Expediting Other Reviews

If you have submitted your piece to multiple journals, you may recieve an offer from a journal before other journals have made a decision. 

In this case, it is common to ask the journals still considering your piece to expedite their decision. Expresso has this functionality built in.

Be strategic in asking for expedited reviews. An acceptance in one law review is a signal to other law reviews of the quality of the offer, but that signal is only as strong as the law review making the offer.

Unless a journal specifically says otherwise, an expeditied decision resulting in an offer does not commit you to accept. You can use that offer as the basis for expedititing a decision at yet another journal.