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Publishing in Academic Law Journals

Choosing a journal

Selecting a journal to publish in can seem like a daunting task, especially when considering a list of Canadian academic law journals. One method you can use to narrow down your list of prospective journals to publish is to evaluate journals against the following three criteria: 

  1. Whether the journal accepts submissions from your demographic (e.g., undergraduate, graduate, or faculty) 

  1. The types of submissions accepted 

  1. The journal’s subject or focus 

Student submissions

First, student authors should determine whether a journal is willing to receive students’ manuscripts. If they are not, do not proceed any further.  

Whether a journal is open to student submissions can usually be found on the journal’s submission page of their website. For instance, the Dalhousie Journal of Legal Studies submission page states that it “publishes articles and case comments from law students and recent graduates” and lists the degree types accepted. Other journals are not as clear in their submission criteria, although typically, general law school journals are more likely to accept student submissions than specialized journals.  

Different types of accepted articles

You should also determine whether the journal accepts the type of article that you have written. Academic law journals publish more than just journal articles. Many publish book reviews, case comments, legislative notes, and articles on legal trends alongside traditional academic articles. Make sure to review the “submission” page for the type of articles that are accepted, and whether they have any parameters (e.g., word count, format, etc.) for them prior to submission. 

The journal’s subject or focus

Law journals fall along a spectrum: from being general in nature, covering all aspects of law, to being highly specialized in terms of the scope of what is accepted. While it is sometimes easy to determine what a journal’s scope is by its name (e.g., the Canadian Journal of Family Law publishes work on all aspects of family law), others may require more investigation. Traditionally, journals describe their focus in an “aim and scope” statement, although newer journals may include this information on their website “about” page.  

You can choose to either publish your work in a general law journal or a specialized one that aligns with your topic of focus. For example, an article on what satisfies the rehabilitation requirement of a mine closure plan where successful reclamation strategies have yet to be identified could align with either environmental law or mining law. As a result, it could be submitted to a law journal specializing in either environmental or mining law, or a general law journal. 

Submitting an article that does not match a journal’s aim or scope will not serve either you or the publisher. It will take the publisher time to review the submission and provide their decision, during which you cannot submit your article to another journal. Thus, authors are encouraged to only submit their manuscripts to journals that either align with their focus or are general in nature.