The Northwestern University Law Review is pleased to announce its fifth annual issue dedicated to empirical legal scholarship, to be published in Spring 2023. We welcome pieces making use of any and all empirical tools—including qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods—to illuminate and engage questions of legal interest. You can also view our inaugural empirical issue, published in March 2019, here.
Please find below general submissions information and frequently asked questions regarding our empirical issue.
How to Submit
The Northwestern University Law Review accepts empirical articles on an exclusive basis only. The exclusive submission window for the Volume 117 fifth annual Empirical Issue will open on May 15, 2022 and run until June 30, 2022. Any author who submits an article by 5 pm CT on Thursday, June 30th will receive a final publication decision regarding that submission by 5 pm CT on Friday, August 19th.
By submitting an article to the Law Review’s exclusive empirical submissions track, the author agrees to accept a binding publication offer, should one be extended. Participating authors must agree to withhold the manuscript from submission to any other publications until receiving a decision from us. This exclusivity enables our peer review process, which provides in-depth feedback from other empirically trained legal scholars, for authors who participate in this stage of the review process. Please note that some pieces may be conditionally accepted upon the advice of our Empirical Advisory Board.
Interested authors must submit Articles and Essays via email to the Senior Empirical Articles Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please submit the Article as a .doc or .docx file with a cover letter or similar email; CV; and, if desired, supporting materials as discussed below.
Submission Length, Style, and Formatting
Empirical articles should conform generally to the style and length expectations that are common to law reviews, rather than disciplinary journals. The Law Review is conscious of the fact that our audience—the general legal reader—remains the same for our empirical issue, and encourages authors to submit pieces that are of interest to, and approachable by, legal empiricists and non-empiricists alike. Empirical sophistication is encouraged; so is writing that contextualizes that sophistication for non-experts.
To that end, our length and formatting requirements for empirical articles are the same as our length and formatting requirements for non-empirical articles. The Northwestern University Law Review has no formal length requirements, and we will review all submissions regardless of length. However, we and the editors of several of our peer journals endorse the position that most articles can effectively convey their arguments within the range of 40 to 70 journal pages. We believe that establishing word minimum and maximum guidelines will enhance the quality of empirical legal scholarship and improve the editing process. To that end, we strongly prefer articles between 15,000 and 30,000 words, including footnotes. Only in exceptional circumstances will we publish articles of fewer than 15,000 or more than 30,000 words, or articles written in styles that are so strongly disciplinary as to be illegible to the general legal reader.
Pieces of 3,000 to 6,000 words will be considered for publication in the Northwestern University Law Review Online (more information here) in conjunction with the empirical issue.
Tables and figures should be included in the body of the manuscript, where applicable. All figures should be in black and white, and text therein in Times New Roman 9-point font.
Manuscripts should be double-spaced and use footnotes rather than endnotes. Text and citations should conform to The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (21st ed. 2020) and the Texas Law Review Manual on Usage and Style (15th ed. 2020). We also request that authors provide a word count, including footnotes. The Law Review encourages the use of gender-neutral language.
Submitting Data and Supporting Materials
Where not otherwise evident from the text of the article, please submit a brief statement (no more than two pages) explaining the study design, methodology, and/or analysis of the empirical work underlying the article, as applicable.
Authors submitting empirical pieces may, but are not required to, submit data sets and/or supporting materials along with their articles to the extent that it may be helpful to facilitate our selection and review process. Such supporting materials might include, but are not limited to, data sets, spreadsheet files showing data analysis, visual representations, codebooks and coding protocols, survey instruments, lists of interview questions, and the like. Please send no more than two files in addition to the manuscript, CV, and cover letter. Where data or supporting materials are already hosted on a website, we welcome the submission of the relevant links along with a brief textual explanation in the body of the email. Pieces not accompanied by data at the initial submission stage will in no way be disadvantaged in our review process.
The final acceptance of any empirical work will be contingent upon the author’s documentation and archival of data sets and/or supporting materials in a manner sufficient to allow third parties to engage with the underlying information and interpret or replicate the published findings and conclusions, to the greatest extent possible given technical and ethical constraints. The Law Review will make available research computing and visualization resources that can effectively present a wide range of primary material to the expert and nonexpert public.
The Law Review recognizes that many authors may have Institutional Review Board, confidentiality, or other ethics constraints on the information they are able to share. The Law Review welcomes pieces relying on human subjects or other confidential data, and such articles will in no way be disadvantaged in our review and selection process. Either in the body of the covering email or in a supporting statement, please explain briefly any constraints and, where relevant, provide technical and other specifications (e.g., acceptable methods of anonymization or data security) that would assist the Law Review in facilitating publication and presentation of the work should the article be accepted.
Authors with further questions or concerns regarding constraints upon their data or research design may contact Empirical Editor Michael Bellis. Michael is happy to work with authors to develop appropriate solutions.
The Review Process
The exclusive submission window for our fifth annual empirical issue will open on May 15, 2022. Submissions will be accepted only via email. A subset of submissions will be selected to move forward to peer review. The Law Review will make every effort to notify authors of rejection or of advancement to peer review by mid-July 2022.
Peer review will begin on a rolling basis and last until the end of July 2022. Reviewers are empirically trained members of the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and American Bar Foundation faculties. Reviews will be double-blind; Northwestern University Law Review editorial staff will anonymize all submissions, so authors need not worry about submitting anonymized manuscripts. Authors of all manuscripts selected for peer review, even those manuscripts not ultimately selected for publication, will receive feedback.
Final publication decisions will issue by mid-August 2022. Some offers of acceptance may be conditional, upon the advice of reviewers. Conditional acceptances will require authors to make relatively minor changes in advance of publication—the “conditional accept” will be a lighter touch than a full “revise and resubmit.” Law Review staff are available to support authors in the timely fulfillment of any conditions. After acceptance, articles will go through the standard substantive editing process with the Law Review editorial staff through Winter 2022. The fourth annual Empirical Issue will be published in March 2023.