|Harvard Law Review||February 9, 2005|
|1511 Massachusetts Avenue|
|Cambridge, MA 02138|
Re: Articles Length Limitations
I wish to report an important development in the Harvard Law Review’s policy regarding the length of law review articles. As many of you know, last December, the Harvard Law Review conducted a nationwide survey of law faculty regarding the state of legal scholarship. Nearly 800 professors completed the survey and submitted their feedback. As promised, we will soon post complete tabulations of the survey on the web.
Importantly, the survey documented one particularly unambiguous view shared by faculty and law review editors alike: the length of articles has become excessive. In fact, nearly 90% of faculty agreed that articles are too long. In addition, dozens of respondents submitted specific comments, identifying the dangers of this trend and calling for action. Survey respondents suggested that shorter articles would enhance the quality of legal scholarship, shorten and improve the editing process, and render articles more effective and easier to read.
We are very grateful for your feedback and have shared your concerns with a number of law reviews across the country. Recently, these law reviews issued a statement that reflects a commitment to play an active role in moderating the length of law review articles; we have posted this statement on our website at the following address:
Joint Statement: http://www.harvardlawreview.org/articles_length_policy.pdf
Ultimately, however, individual law reviews will have to decide for themselves how best to resolve these concerns. At the Harvard Law Review, we agree with your diagnosis and apologize for whatever role we have played in encouraging the submission and publication of lengthier articles. In an effort to respond to these concerns, we are committed to doing our part to counter this troubling trend and to break what we perceive as a vicious cycle. To that end, we now adopt the following articles submission and publication policy:
The Harvard Law Review will give preference to articles under 25,000 words in lengththe equivalent of 50 law review pagesincluding text and footnotes. The Review will not publish articles exceeding 35,000 wordsthe equivalent of 70-75 law review pagesexcept in extraordinary circumstances.
Although academic publications from a range of other disciplines regularly use length limitations, we are aware that we are abruptly introducing a constraint to which the legal academy is unaccustomed. Not surprisingly, then, we anticipate growing pains and acknowledge that our approach runs certain risks. Still, we hope the policy we announce today will play a modest role in reversing a trend that has cost legal scholarship dearly. To ease the transition, we have installed a fully functional electronic submission system and recommend the following practices:
We are well aware that our policy will draw some praise and some criticism. Rest assured that we plan to monitor this issue carefully, and we acknowledge that modifications may be needed in years to come. For now, though, we announce and adopt these policies to try to catalyze some change for the good. We hope you will support our efforts. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
All the best,