Sunday, March 05, 2006

A recognition of the true value of law reviews

"In any event, publication in these [law] reviews, although prestigious, does not carry the same kind of imprimatur conferred by top ranked science journals, and there is not the same kind of crowding of fundamental research in a few top-ranked journals. Harvard Law Review and Yale Law Journal are not in a position to demand supra-competitive rents. If these law reviews sought to charge the kind of prices demanded by Brain Research n77 or The Journal of Comparative Neurology, n78 a law librarian could cut the titles without causing overwhelming concern to the library's users. It would be regrettable not to have access to these journals, but for the most part, a legal scholar could still contribute to scholarship without consulting them. n79"

Dan Hunter, Walled Gardens, 62 Wash & Lee L. Rev. 607 (2005).

Hunter himself neglected to point out that the top-ranked science journal [Science] does NOT charge a supra-competitive rent. The cost to become a member of AAAS is $139/year, of which $74 goes to the subscription to Science. [See for example 311 Science 1065]. I would agree that Science is probably more useful to most people, including lawyers, than is the Harvard Law Review. However, scientists, to get detailed understanding of scientific issues, generally look to more detailed accounts than provided in Science. Science, apart from its "impact" value in terms of citations, is valuable because of the diversity of people who look to it to provide cutting edge accounts, not necessarily because of the detail of the accounts. Ironically, as Solomon pointed out, Jan-Hendrik Schon probably could not have had his manuscripts published in first-line physics journals, but he could get them published in Science and Nature, because of the softer, less-detailed content, and the lack of rigorous review by experts in the field for these more general purpose journals.

Separately, of a different error in a law review, contemplate the text
Before 1980, all intellectual property resulting from federally funded research belonged to the federal government and was dedicated to the public domain. in view of the Cohen/Boyer patents, arising from federally funded research prior to 1980. Harvard does it again. I'm just waiting for a law review to recount the horrors of the death by peanut butter kiss.


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