Infographic: Do U.S. law journals need reform?

A recent study regarding whether U.S. law journals need reform was conducted by Richard A. Wise, Lucy S. McGough, James W. Bowers, Douglas P. Peters, Joseph C. Miller, Heather K. Terrell, Brett Holfeld, and Joe H. Neal.  The study consisted of a survey distributed to student editors, law professors, judges, and lawyers using a convenience sampling method.  A convenience sample is not necessarily representative of the groups from which the respondents were selected, so to the extent representativeness is in question (respondents are described in the article and some limitations are identified by the authors) the study’s findings cannot be generalized to the larger population.  Still, the study paints a portrait of those surveyed that is worth considering.  The infographic below depicts some of the study’s results, published last year, along with other statistics.

Law Journal Infographic.001

Sources

Davies, Ross E. “The Increasingly Lengthy Long Run of the Law Reviews: Law Review Business 2012—Circulation and Production.” Journal of Law 3 (2013): 345-72.

Washington & Lee University. Law Journals: Submissions & Ranking [Web site] (2013).

Wise, Richard. A. et al. “Do Law Reviews Need Reform? A Survey of Law Professors, Student Editors, Attorneys, and Judges.” Loyola Law Review 59 (2013): 1-75.

Wolotira, Alena. “From a Trickle to a Flood: A Case Study of the Current Index to Legal Periodicals to Examine the Swell of American Law Journals Published in the Last Fifty Years.” Legal Reference Services Quarterly 31 (2012): 150-83.

Create Your Own

Infographics are a great way to promote your journal or to visualize data or information presented in an article.  There are free web-based templates that can get you started, including Piktochart, easel.ly, and infogr.am.  I used KeyNote, Apple’s presentation application, and infographic templates and elements from Jumsoft.

Attorney blogger tips: Law journals on Twitter and engaging the bench and bar

Attorney Steve Klepper offers some great insights on what having an online presence can do for law journals in his blog post, “How Twitter Can Save Law Reviews.”  In view of the Liptak critique, he suggests that journals engage the bench and bar in online conversations and encourage submissions from these groups.  Klepper also points out that effectively using social media to promote articles might make a journal a more attractive venue for publication with authors.  He also offers some useful suggestions on how to use (and not use) Twitter and describes why online companions are a practitioner-friendly venue for publication.  It’s worth a read.

Cover art remix of Bound By Law comic by Keith Aoki, James, Boyle, Jennifer Jenkins (Duke CSPD)
Remix by @ninarose 15 CC BY-NC-SA 2.5

This week’s feature is a shout out for my YouTube playlist, Journal Views. I’ve been collecting videos on topics like law publishing history, journal publishing on tablets, critiques of law journal publishing, social media usage by academic journals, university press book publishing for the wider academic publishing context, open access law journal publishing, and open access generally (what it is and what kind of impact it can have). Take a peek and let me know what you think. Bonus points to readers who suggest YouTube videos to add to my collection.

Generate buzz, @connect, and #LeadOthers to your journal on Twitter

I ran a few searches on Twitter and found that of the 600+ student-edited law journals being published in the U.S., roughly 125 journals have Twitter accounts.  The question is how much are law journals using Twitter, and in what ways?

If your journal’s Twitter account pretty much sleeps until a new issue is published, Tweets out article titles, and then goes quietly back into its profile page, consider getting out on Twitter a little more and stretching your journal’s wings.  This blog post will talk about some strategies.  If your journal is new to Twitter or doesn’t yet have an account, check out this Prezi slideshow “What the *Tweet*? Social Media for Grad Students” by Melonie Fullick, and read on.

Engage users, brand your journal

Twitter is great for sharing information about your journal, but its potential for engaging users or drawing them into a journal’s activities are limited only by your imagination (and perhaps the school’s social media policy or guidelines, so check them out).Blue bird Twitter logo

If you missed the recent blog post by Professor Derek Muller showcasing the great things going on at Case Western Reserve Law Review, it really is worth a read.  Among other innovations, the law review uses Twitter to accept submissions (apparently via direct messaging with links to the author’s submission once the author follows the journal on Twitter).  Earlier this year, the journal conducted an impromptu Miranda symposium on Twitter, where it reTweeted law professor comments and Tweeted related links.  Search #TwitterSymposium, or check out the April 19 Tweets on @CaseWResLRev’s profile.

The law review also just wound up a campaign soliciting authors to “tweet review” one of its articles, and it offered a Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) Lego prize to participants.  Go to @CaseWResLRev’s full profile and see its tweets from September 11 to October 4 for campaign details, for @replies to some of its followers with friendly nudges to participate, for the unveiling of the SCOTUS Lego designer (a high school student), and for the resulting “tweet reviews” of articles.

These kinds of campaigns show that the journal is innovative, engage the audience with the journal’s content, get user’s to generate content that is desired by the journal, and create an all-around buzz.  Great work!  Hey @CaseWResLRev, how about posting or Tweeting a photo of one of the desktop SCOTUS Lego prizes?Text box describing what an @username is, how to @reply, and what the #studentedited hashtag is

Live Tweeting of events is another strategy for engaging distributed followers in journal activities on campus.  The New York Law School Law Review (@NYLSLawReview) hosted a few symposia on campus recently where it Tweeted a play-by-play of speaker comments (search #IncomeTaxNYLS and #MLKnyls on Twitter).  The law review also Tweeted links to videos of the MLK symposium on YouTube.

Using play-by-play of another sort, the Tulsa Law Review (@TulsaLawReview) engaged users in newsworthy topics by curating stories on Storify and Tweeting about their works in progress to get its followers involved.  See the law review’s full profile for the January and February 2012 posts.

Surely there are other great examples!  Comment below or Tweet @ninarose15 if your journal has a highly active account or innovative account users on board.

A word about altmetrics

There are many metrics that have traditionally been used to gauge the impact of a journal, article, or scholar.  In a digital environment that is increasingly open and social, more granular metrics are available that may take into account a variety of alternative data sources, including the number and quality of Facebook likes, Twitter Tweets, blog citations, mentions and recommendations around the web, and social bookmarks.  Metrics based on data from the social web are referred to as altmetrics.  Metrics that zoom in at the article-level might combine any number of altmetrics with traditional measures, as described in the 2013 primer on article-level metrics by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) (p. 5).

While rigorous research on the efficacy and reliability of the tools and data used to generate alternative measures has only just begun (p. 294), scholars, students, and the general public continue to push social buttons and read and share open research.  Were altmetrics tools like these and these to gain acceptance alongside traditional metrics in law (and perhaps become customized for legal scholarship), the social ground and exposure your journal and its content will already have gained just might boost its impact ratings at the journal and article level.

Quiet stream or raging river

Twitter is about following other people, entities, media outlets, and more to find information, share ideas, participate in the conversation, and make connections.  The more users you follow, the faster your Twitter feed (or “home timeline”) moves.  Creating lists of select users you follow (or creating separate “streams” for Tweets using groups of users, lists, hashtags, and keywords on Hoot Suite) can make it easier to keep up with a raging Twitter feed.

A list of law journals on Twitter

If you haven’t yet read my About this blog page, you should know that I created this blog to see what interest there is among student editors in a blog about law journal publishing (partly because I had to create a social media campaign for a class, and partly because I’m interested in the topic).  If it so happens that my blog disappears or sleeps after the semester, I hope to at least have made the digital community of law journals a closer one.  So go ahead and find each other on my Twitter list @ninarose15.  It’s called “LJs on twitter.”  You can also subscribe to the list.  Comment below or Tweet me if I missed your journal!

How is your journal using Twitter?

I’m sure to have only skimmed the surface here, so share a Comment about what your journal is doing to increase its reach and impact, and I just might give your journal a Tweeting on #FollowFriday or find some other way to “share alike.”

Reach out and get social

Consistently attracting great content to your journal, having high readership levels, and steadily climbing up in the traditional impact and citation metrics are often the payoff of a well-run, well-established journal.  But even the highest ranking journals by your metric of choice can do more to boost their reach and generate “buzz,” as Fred Shapiro and Michelle Pearse describe it in “The Most-Cited Law Review Articles of All Time” (p. 1517).  The next few posts will discuss some ideas.

When Facebook was in junior high

When I was the editor of the University of Florida Journal of Law & Public Policy in 1997 we may have had a static webpage, but the most social of all media at our disposal was a printed newsletter that was mailed or e-mailed to a group of folks who were likely former journal members.  The Facebook founders were probably in junior high at the time.  Fast forward to 2013, where 72% of adults who are online are using social media, according to the latest Pew Internet and American Life Statistics.  In this non-static digital environment will your current readers be able to find your journal online and engage with it socially?  How about potential new readers who won’t stumble upon your content in a subscription database?  What’s your journal’s plan for engaging this diverse and expansive online audience?

Plan your social media

A good first step is to develop a simple social media marketing plan.  If you don’t already have a journal member in charge of social media, appoint one, or consider creating a new board position to stay on top of it.  Some other resources:

  • Click through this brief 2012 SlideShare presentation by Duncan MacRae, Managing Editor of Neurosurgery: “Social Media: A Case Study.”  It demonstrates the minimal effort involved in driving traffic to your journal’s website.
  • The social marketing strategy used by a nonprofit scientific journal publisher is presented in this 23-minute YouTube video, “Social Tools and Academic Publishing” (2012).  Alan Cann of the University of Leicester is the Internet Consulting Editor for the Annals of Botany (published since 1887).  Cann observes that the “journal” has lost relevance as readers primarily seek content at the article level.  For this journal’s survival it became necessary to use social tools to engage new audiences as traditional print audiences fade.  Sound familiar?
Book illustration, man selling books which he carries in a basket, Carracci, Annibale, 1560-1609, artist, from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

Book illustration, man selling books which he carries in a basket, Carracci, Annibale, 1560-1609, artist. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. Retrieved from http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2005694896/.)

In developing your social marketing plan, be sure to include the general public as part of your target audience.  And stay tuned to this blog for ways that your journal can make its scholarship more accessible to lay readers.

Ask a librarian

If your university has a business school, then it likely has a wealth of social media marketing books and digital resources.  Google LibGuide “social media marketing” for lists of useful resources and see what is available through your library.  Your law library liaison or the university’s social media librarian (if it has one!) can also be a great source of help.

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