Davies: Explaining Widespread Drops in Law Review Circulation

Attempting to assess the print readership of leading U.S. law reviews, Professor Ross Davies came across some interesting information: He found numerous instances of law reviews failing to publish their circulation numbers as the U.S. Postal Service requires, and he also found that data available showed a significant decline in print circulation by those law reviews reporting, with drops primarily in the half to two-thirds range.

Davies, editor in chief of The Green Bag law journal, says it is not possible to know whether the underreporting of print circulation figures signifies ignorance or a perceived drop in influence or status of the publications. He points out that increased electronic access to the law reviews could, conversely, account for an overall rise in circulation and influence. Any assumptions are speculation, says Davies, without hard data from the publishers.

The subjects of Davies' examination were the law reviews of the top 15 law schools in the U.S. News & World Report rankings. His findings were presented in a paper prepared for The Green Bag's annual almanac and available on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN). 

Documenting the Decline of (Print) Law Reviews, Inside Higher Ed, February 2, 2009. By Doug Lederman.

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