I ran a Google search on what students who have their work turned away do, and came across this link. The blog discussion is nearly three years old, but the points made are increasingly relevant and—surprisingly—not as frequently discussed as one would expect.
The question, as Professor Desai puts it, is whether student-written scholarship should “R.I.P. or Survive on SSRN.” Noting that rejected student pieces are rarely accepted for publication in other journals, Professor Desai explains that students can nevertheless post their rejected articles on SSRN—a scholarly research network which allows authors to upload their work for the public’s unfettered access. Of course, as he sees it, the arguments on whether students should (be able to?) do so cut both ways:
On one hand, the amount of information (some good and some perhaps not so good) would increase but I could see arguments about too much noise or information overload being raised. Then again, one already has to wade through volumes of information using search strings and the like so perhaps adding more narrow but hopefully well done pieces to that pool will allow scholars to focus on large implications of their research and use the increased access to notes as a way to more efficiently see what work has been done on a particular topic that is a footnote or small part of the scholar's workI think Professor Desai makes some good points, and I can appreciate that there are information overload concerns associated with opening the "floodgates" to student comments on scholarly databases such as SSRN. On the other hand, such arguments seem to presuppose that student work—at least that of the “not so good” variety—contributes nothing to the discourse. I have several reactions to this.
First, I think even bad scholarship (whatever that means) could contribute something to legal academia. Even if it is only the research put forth by the authors that could be expanded upon, and improved.
Second, it seems that the same argument could also be made with respect to published pieces written by students and academics alike. Students, after all, are the ones who choose legal academia’s direction by determining what to publish as Journal editors, and there are 918 journals to publish in along with a corresponding pressure to publish…surely not every published work is a masterpiece. I’ve heard rumblings of a push for peer review, but any such movement is—for now, anyway—an unrealized ideal.
Finally, in light of my second point, I have to wonder why professors would not want to see what the next generation of lawyers is writing about. Given that we make the publication decisions on their work, shouldn’t they want to see what we care about? What inspires us? Moreover, couldn’t reading our scholarship forge a better classroom environment since professors would be attuned to our interests?
I hate to generalize, but far more of my professors than I would like have seemed very detached from their pupils, and utterly opposed to learning from us; this is unfortunate. Academic discourse, like the Socratic method, works best when there’s a two-way dialogue—that is, when the “floodgates” are open. Why is there such resistance?