Q. Are law reviews considered to be scholarly and peer-reviewed?
Law reviews, such as The Harvard Law Review, Vanderbilt Law Review, Stanford Law Review and many others, are edited and written publications about the law and legal issues by law students. The Harvard Law School Library provides a good definition of law reviews on their secondary sources web page.
Many law reviews state that they are peer-reviewed and are even designated as refereed in Ulrichsweb. In the case of student written scholarly work, their "peers" are more experienced students. In some cases, law reviews that use peer-review may have articles edited by practitioners or legal professionals, but this information is not always clearly provided by the publication. However, law reviews are considered secondary scholarship because the articles are providing analyses and commentary on legal issues.
It is important to recognize the difference in the types of scholarship and research that is identified as peer-reviewed. Primary works, such as empirical studies and original research conducted by scholars, may be more appropriate for graduate level and doctoral dissertation work.
There is much debate and discussion about student written law reviews in the scholarly community. See the following links to learn more about this topic:
Caron, P. (16 November 2015). It's time to replace student-edited law reviews with peer-reviewed journals [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2015/11/its-time-to-replace-student-edited-law-reviews-with-peer-reviewed-journals.html
Miller, S. K. (2008). Editor's corner: Are law reviews peer-reviewed?. American Business Law Journal. pp. v-vi. doi:10.1111/j.1744-1714.2008.00060.x.
Olkowski, T. B. (13 March 2014 ). Despite alternatives, student-run law reviews here to stay. The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved from https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2014/3/13/law-review-student-editors/
Posner, R. A. (2004). Against the law reviews. Legal Affairs. Retrieved from https://www.legalaffairs.org/issues/November-December-2004/review_posner_novdec04.msp
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Be sure to always clarify with your professor, chair or department as to whether you can include and cite law reviews in your research assignments and/or dissertation.
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