The Northwestern University Law Review is pleased to announce its sixth annual issue dedicated to empirical legal scholarship, to be published in Spring 2024. 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 past empirical issues 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 118 Empirical Issue will open on March 20, 2023 and run until April 30, 2023. Any author who submits an article by 5 pm CT on Sunday, April 30th will receive a final publication decision regarding that submission by 5 pm CT on Friday, August 18th. An author may receive a final publication decision earlier depending on the peer review process.
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.
We accept empirical article submissions exclusively through our online submissions system, Scholastica. In extenuating circumstances, we also accept print submissions sent via email to Rachel O’Sullivan, Senior Empirical Editor for Volume 118, at email@example.com.
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 are preferred in black and white (color is acceptable where functionally necessary to distinguish elements of a figure), and any 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. It is Northwestern University Law Review’s policy that authors submitting a manuscript involving data from human subjects must also submit an IRB approval or exemption. We will not consider articles utilizing data from human subjects absent an IRB approval or exemption.
Authors submitting empirical pieces may, but are not required to, submit data sets and/or supporting materials along with their articles. The Law Review strongly encourages authors submitting empirical works to make their datasets available and accessible during the selection process in order to allow for complete consideration of their work. 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 cover letter 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 Senior Empirical Editor Rachel O’Sullivan. Rachel is happy to work with authors to develop appropriate solutions.
The Review Process
The exclusive submission window for the Volume 118 Empirical Issue will open on March 20, 2023. Submissions will be accepted only via Scholastica. 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 2023.
Peer review will begin on a rolling basis and last until the end of July 2023. Reviewers are empirically trained members of the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and American Bar Foundation faculties as well as other empirical scholars. 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 2023. 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 2023. The Volume 118 Empirical Issue will be published in March 2024.