The Science and Technology Law Journal is a peer-reviewed legal journal, whose purpose is to inform and promote discourse among legal scholars, practitioners, and the scientific community. The principle of peer review in the context of the legal journal is a new one; as such, we have prepared a brief explanation of the purpose and methodology of STLJ’s peer review process.
Why Peer Review?
To better serve the legal and scientific communities by selecting for publication only those pieces which have been thoroughly considered and reviewed by legal scholars, scientists, and/or practicing attorneys whose spheres of expertise allow them to provide invaluable insight into an article’s viability, reliability, and overall impact.
How Does It Work?
Like a traditional law journal, the first stage of STLJ’s article selection process lies with its student editors. Pieces that have been submitted to the journal are first reviewed by the Selections Committee, which is headed by the Executive Articles Editor and made up of several Senior Articles Editors. Articles that are approved by the Selections Committee are then advanced to the Peer Review stage.
Once this decision is made, the author is contacted to inform them that their piece has been selected for peer review. Because of the commitment of resources on the part of the Journal and the peer reviewers, the author is asked to refrain from accepting any other offers during the Peer Review stage, which generally takes between six to eight weeks.
The Peer Review Process
The peer review process is anonymous: the reviewers do not know the identity of the author, nor are the identities of an article’s peer reviewers known beyond the Journal’s editorial board. Reviewers are selected for their familiarity with the subject matter, expertise in their field, and for a diversity of viewpoints. After the article has been stripped of all identifying information, it is sent to two to four peer reviewers.
Peer reviewers are provided with the article under review, as well as a review feedback package. This consists of a timeline for the review process and a brief series of guidelines to help the reviewer deliver appropriate feedback that will guide the Journal’s selection process. The reviewers are asked to provide comments on the piece, and to rate it on several dimensions. Reviewers are also encouraged to make inline comments as they review the work, if they so desire. Finally, the reviewers are asked to provide an overall score for the piece on a seven-point scale.
Once the review materials are returned, the Journal’s editors consider the feedback and scores with the assistance of a member of the Peer Review Board, an advisory committee made up of faculty, practitioners, and scientists who have volunteered to assist with the coordination of the review process. The Selections Committee and Peer Review Board representative will use the reviewer’s feedback and recommendations to decide whether to extend an offer of publication. Depending on the nature of the reviews the Journal has received, this offer may be conditioned on making certain revisions to address issues raised.
After The Peer Review Process
Once an article is accepted for publication, the comments and feedback collected from the peer reviewers are collated and edited for consistency. This anonymous feedback is then provided to the author, who is given the opportunity to make changes and address issues or concerns raised by the reviewers. If the offer of acceptance was conditional, the author may be given a list of issues that the Journal would like to be addressed before publication.
During this revision period, STLJ Staff Editors begin the technical edit stage, which continue once the author returns the revised version of their piece. When the technical and substantive editing procedures are complete, a final draft is delivered to the author for review. This draft is then finalized and prepared for production.