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Most-Cited Legal Periodicals: U.S. and Selected Non-U.S.

Back to Most-cited database

See below for Ranking methodology, Impact Factor, Immediacy Index, or Cites per Cost


The journal list can be sorted
      alphabetically (by journal name), or
      in rank order (by citation count).
Select the button in the second column of the menu for either "Journal Name" or "Rank", and press "Submit". Alternatively click the "Journal" column header to toggle between an alphabetical and a ranked sort order. The "Journal" column header will not be functional if JavaScript is disabled on your computer.

Selecting numeric columns, and ranking
Use the checkboxes in the first column of the menu to decide which numeric citation source to display. Choices are:
      Cases, 1998-2005, 1997-2004, 1996-2003, and 1995-2002, containing citations from Westlaw's Federal & State Case Law (ALLCASES) Database
      Journals, 1998-2005, 1997-2004, 1996-2003, and 1995-2002, containing citations from Westlaw's Journals & Law Reviews (JLR) Database
      Journals Impact Factor, 1998-2005, 1997-2004, and 1996-2003, showing the average number of citations to each article. See impact factor below for more information.
      Immediacy, 2004, and 2003, showing the number of citations to a journal's articles published in that year divided by the number of articles the journal published in that year.
Also, select a button next to just one selected checkbox to indicate which numeric column should be used for ranking purposes.
Clicking on underlined column headers will also change the ranking to that column.

General/Specialized, Country, and Student-edited/Peer-edited/Refereed
By selecting the appropriate checkboxes the journal list may be limited to combinations of:
General, specialized"General" is a little confusing, as it's used as a checkbox, and also in the pull-down Subject menu. The checkbox meaning of "General" is that the journal is the main "flagship" journal of an institution (usually a law school) and has no subject speciality. In the pull-down Subject menu, a journal may have "General" classification but also one or more other subject classifications because the journal has a tendency to publish in certain subject areas
Country (U.S., non-U.S., or another specific country)Generally this is the country of the publisher, however, if there is enough contact with another country this may be modified, as for example where the Institution that the journal is issued under the auspices of, and the journal editor, reside in a different county.
Student Edited, Peer Edited, and Refereed journals "Student edited" means a student run journal that does not send articles out for peer review.
"Peer edited" means a journal that is edited by professionals in the field
"Refereed" means a journal that routinely sends article submissions on for peer review by members of a diverse professional group.
Student edited or Peer edited journals may also be refereed, in which case the journal will be listed as "refereed".

Journal Subjects
The pull-down menu "Journal Subjects" allows the lists to be limited to journals that fall within broad subject areas.

Journal Name Search
Using the "Jnl-name words" box, the journal list can be limited to those journal names containing the entered word(s). Words are connected with an implied logical 'and' - do not enter the word 'and' unless you expect it to be in the title. For example, the journal list could be limited to just those journal names containing "harvard", to see a list of Harvard's journals (assuming, of course, that all have "Harvard" in their titles). The "Jnl-name words" box can also be used to search for journals that have changed their journal name in the past few years.

Limiting to journals within a Range of Rankings
Using the "Rank" box the number of displayed journals can be reduced to the range number selected. If a single number like "99" is entered, then the output is limited to journals with a rank of 99 or better (i.e. where '1' is the best ranking and '99' the lowest). Otherwise a range of rank numbers can be entered using "," or "-", e.g. "31,33,35,37-43,46-50". Note that the numeric rank of a journal is dependent on the choices of general/specialized, Country, and numeric (such as 'Journals 1997-2004') column, so, perhaps an Australian journal might be ranked 10th when limiting to Australia, but 527th when listing all countries.

Checkboxes next to Journal Names
The Journal checkboxes are used to limit the list of journals. If none are checked then the checkboxes are ignored and the output list is governed by the boxes and buttons chosen in the menu. Any journal checkboxes that are checked will be used to limit the menu choice output. Note that, if for example, a string of "yale" is entered in the menu to limit journals to only those with "yale" in their name, and then before clicking "Submit" some journal checkboxes are checked where the journal names do not include "yale", these choices will be inconsistent and will result in zero journals being listed.

Author Submissions
Check the "Author Submissions" box to activate this feature. Choose either "Multi-email" or "Separate", then when the "Submit" button is clicked (and based on the check-boxes and menu buttons that have been chosen), a list of editorial addresses, upload links and email address links will be listed in order of the chosen sort and rankby sequence. Other editorial information, such as submission policy, will be shown, if available.
If "Multi-email" is chosen, the returned page will be divided into three parts:
(1) a link that will activate all email addresses into one email message (which will be split into more than one email link if the length of the "Bcc:" list of journals is long). The email messages will place the first listed email address in the "To:" field and the remainder of the email addresses in the "Bcc:" field. Also, a copy of the email strings will be displayed, to alternatively allow users to copy and paste the addressess into their email program.
(2) any electronic submissions that need to be done one-by-one. This is usually because
- articles must be uploaded at the journal's web site, or
- the journal, while accepting email submissions, requires them to be exclusive submissions (in other words, prohibits multiple simultaneous submissions to other journals), or
- more than one journal shares the same e-mail submission address, and multiple submissions in one e-mail would not inform the recipient as to which journal the author intends to submit the article to.
(3) any other chosen journals (usually those that require paper copy submission, or don't accept unsolicited submissions).
Clicking the "author submit" link (if you have JavaScript enabled) will automatically check the "Author Submissions" box and then submit the request.

Printable Format
Checking the "Printable Format" checkbox will produce a cleaner listing for printing as the output will exclude the menu choice area.

Exclude Online Journals
Checking the "Online-jnls" box will exclude online journals from the displayed list. Online journal means a journal that publishes exclusively electronically, not producing printed issues.

Exclude Nonranked
Some journals in the list have not been ranked, i.e. no search has been run against Westlaw's JLR and ALLCASES databases. Some journals have recently begun publication and will eventually be ranked, others (most will be non-U.S journals) are listed only in order to include their editorial information. Nonranked entries can be excluded from listings by checking the "Nonranked" box.

Information About the Journal
Clicking on the journal name retrieves information about the journal such as web address, and article submission information. Holding the mouse pointer on a journal name for a couple of seconds will show the previous names for the journal (any in use since 1995) - this will show no more than the first 140 characters of the previous name field. The record retrieved by clicking on the journal name will display links to "OpenURL" resolvers that can attempt to find full-text sources for the journal (whether or not the source can actually be accessed by the user will depend on licensing restrictions). "Previous" and "Next" links are available in this display to take the user to the preceding and following journal entry, based on the selected journal list and sort sequence.

Ranking Methodology

See also, Impact Factor, Immediacy Index and Cites per Cost

Counted citations are those which cite journal volumes published in the preceding eight years. The reason for this limit is to prevent a bias in favor of long-published journals. Thus the study is concerned only with citations to current scholarship. The search results give only the number of citing documents, and do not show where a citing article or case cites to two or more articles in a cited legal periodical. Sources for the citation counts are limited to documents in Westlaw's JLR database (primarily U.S. articles), and in Westlaw's ALLCASES database (U.S. federal/state cases). The searches conducted in those databases generally use the Bluebook format in use in the U.S. (volume journal [page] year), any citations utilizing a non-U.S. legal citation format (year volume journal) would generally not have been counted. Thus it is important to realize that this survey is primarily intended to be a ranking from the perspective of U.S. legal scholarship.

The list includes cited periodicals that began publication after the survey period began. Rank results based on total citation counts are unfair to those periodicals, and whenever a journal recently began publication a warning has been supplied next to the periodical name, in the form of a parenthetical date such as "(2001- )".

Legal periodicals published in the U.S., of an academic nature, are included in this study, also some non-U.S. legal periodicals are included (usually English language). Generally, working-paper series, criminology journals, bar journals, newsletters and legal newspapers/magazines are not included. Legal periodicals which appear to have ceased publication (even though they were published during a part of the survey period) are not included.

Anyone wishing to see the text of the searches run in the JLR and ALLCASES databases see: GENERAL PERIODICALS: 1998-2005, 1997-2004, 1996-2003, and 1995-2002, or
SPECIALIZED PERIODICALS: 1998-2005, 1997-2004, 1996-2003, and 1995-2002.
Those files also show the method used to determine the number of articles published by each journal.

The "Journals" column(s) shows the number of articles that cite to each journal (within our date period) that were found in the full-text Westlaw journals database "Journals and Law Reviews (JLR)". To see what sources are included in the JLR Database see the Westlaw description at The scope note in that Westlaw description describes the JLR content as, "The JLR database contains documents from law reviews, CLE course materials, and bar journals. A document is an article, a note, a symposium contribution, or other materials published in one of the available periodicals".

The "Cases" column(s) shows the number of cases that cite to each journal (within our date period) that were found in the full-text Westlaw state and federal case database "Federal & State Case Law (ALLCASES)". To see what sources are included in the ALLCASES Database see the Westlaw description at The scope note in that Westlaw description describes the ALLCASES content as, decisions from the "U.S. Supreme Court, courts of appeals, former circuit courts, district courts, bankruptcy courts, former Court of Claims, Court of Federal Claims, Tax Court, related federal and territorial courts, military courts, the state courts of all 50 states and the local courts of the District of Columbia."

Comparisons between the 1998-2005, 1997-2004, 1996-2003, and 1995-2002 citation counts cannot be made precisely. Although the number of years covered by each ranking column is identical (7 years and 10 months - the cut-off date is, the rather arbitrary, October 31), the JLR and ALLCASES databases for the later of the rotated periods are slightly larger then the earlier, and it would be expected that an increase in citations to each periodical might consequently occur. The sizes* of the Westlaw databases (as of November 4, 2004) were:
The JLR database for 1996-2003 is 3.3% larger than for 1995-2002, and 1997-2004 is 3.36% larger than for 1996-2004. The ALLCASES database for 1996-2003 is 3.26% larger than for 1995-2002, and 1997-2004 is 2.21% larger than for 1996-2004. Thus, a small percentage increase in the number of documents citing to a particular journal may be totally accounted for by an increased number of documents in the database.

*  The searches to retrieve the total number of potentially citing articles/cases were:
1997-2004: 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 & DA(> 1996) & AD(>1996 & < 11/1/2004)
1996-2003: 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 & DA(> 1995) & AD(>1995 & < 11/1/2003)
1995-2002: 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 & DA(> 1994) & AD(>1994 & < 11/1/2002)

The searches for citing documents for the 1998-2005 period usually (unless a variant is needed for the particular journal) look for citations within the full-text articles/cases that have one of the volume numbers published for the journal from 1998 onwards (i.e. where the journal has labeled the issue as 1998..2005), followed immediately by the journal abbreviation/name, followed within 6 words with a year designation of 1998-2005. A further condition is that any document (case or article) in which such a citation occurs must be dated (in Westlaw's 'date' field) as 1998 onwards, and must have been added to the Westlaw JLR or ALLCASES database subsequent to 1997 and before November 2005. These dates should be adjusted for an explanation of other rotated 8 year periods.

As the searches are full-text searches they are naturally prone to some error due to variant citation form in the citing cases/articles. Searches for citation patterns roughly follow the Harvard Blue Book format, usually, volume journal [page] year. Citations that are not in the usual format for legal citations may not have been found. Effort was made to allow for different forms of journal name citations (e.g. allowing for the ALWD citation format) but not all can be retrieved. No reliance should be placed on the precise numbers of citations found. The citation counts for citations to non-U.S. periodicals are likely to be less accurate than those for U.S. periodicals because non-U.S. legal citation formats are often severely abbreviated (e.g. the International Journal of Evidence and Proof says that it should be cited as, "(2004) 8 E & P"), and may have the date reversed (from the U.S. citation perspective) to first position in the citation string. Articles utilizing non-U.S. citation formats are most usually found in non-U.S. journals, and as there are relatively few non-U.S. journals in the JLR database this is not a severe problem, particularly as the thrust of this survey is to rank journals based on U.S. citations. Nevertheless, it should be recognized that if the searches for non-U.S. citations were run in the alternative with year rotated to first position (as in "(2003) 119 L.Q.R.") then more citations would often be found.

Westlaw's treatment of periods and spaces within character strings is difficult to understand and is part of the reason why so many alternate cite forms were used.
Quotes are not used around embedded periods, for example, in looking for "HARV. L. REV.", the search HARV +2 L +1 REV would be used.
After a "word" ending with a period, the word is followed by a +2 as in HARV. +2 L.
After letters with embedded periods or single-letters there is no problem with using a +1 as in L +1 REV. However, a problem occurs if the text incorrectly uses a period after a complete word, such as "Akron. L. Rev.", in that case AKRON +1 L +1 REV would not retrieve the cite. Therefore it is a better practice to use a +2 after words longer than one character.

Impact Factor

Impact factor shows the average number of citations to articles in each journal (rounded to one decimal place). Citations-per-article impact factor rankings should be used cautiously as they are biased against journals that publish a larger number of shorter articles, such as book reviews. Nevertheless, if two legal journals have a similar composition of articles, notes, and book reviews, then from an author's viewpoint it's reasonable to compare the impact factor of each to see which is a better journal in which to publish. The implication of a similar ranking by total citations, but a dissimilar ranking by impact factor is that the journal ranked lower by impact factor is publishing some articles of lesser quality, or of less general interest.

The formula for determining Impact Factor is complicated by the fact that the citation data extracted from Westlaw's JLR database covers a seven year and ten month period - October 31st of each year being the somewhat arbitrary cut-off date for the study. However, the count of the number of articles published by each journal is for volumes dated during the previous seven years. Thus for the November 2005 survey the number of citations occur from the period 1998 through the end of October 2005, whereas the count of articles published in each journal is for 1998-2004. So the formula to determine impact factor extrapolates the article count by adding 10/12ths of each journal's average year's article count. To obtain an average yearly article count it's necessary to adjust for the number of years that a journal has been in existence if it began publication less than seven years prior to 2005. Thus the formula process is:
YearDifference = 2005 - YearJournalBegan if greater than 7 then = 7
ExtrapolatedArticleCount = articlecount + ((articlecount/YearDifference)x(10/12))
Impact Factor = totalcites/ExtrapolatedArticleCount) rounded to one decimal place

The fundamental methodological difficulty is one of determining the number of articles published by each journal for the date period, there being no completely satisfactory and automated method for doing this. Most of the article quantity data (at least for the higher ranked journals) was obtained from the WilsonWeb Index to Legal Periodicals. "Articles" meaning any entry that ILP indexes, such as forewords, letters, notes, book reviews, as well as more traditional articles. Note that ILP has had different inclusion policies for its indexing over the years: up to the year 1999 items with less than 5 pages were not included. Then through the year 2002 items with less than 2 pages were not included, and in subsequent years items with less than half a page were not included. After the first preference of ILP, if it was necessary to check journals or volumes in other databases, then the next preference was Westlaw (if Westlaw comprehensively added articles for the years needed), followed by Lexis, then Legal Resource Index, then Legal Journals Index (UK), then any other index in which the journal was indexed. Sometimes a manual count was made by physically examining the tables of contents for the journal years needed. In cases where indexing was not available and a manual count was not feasible, then an extrapolation was made from what was known. As these variant sources undoubtedly have differing definitions as to what is a countable entity this introduces variability into the counts. Look at the General or Specialized data files to see what databases were used to count the number of published articles for each journal.

Immediacy Index

The immediacy index is a method for comparing how rapidly the average article in a particular journal will be discovered and cited. The 2004 immediacy index figures are based on the number of articles citing each journal's articles dated 2004, where the citing articles are dated 2003 or 2004, and the citing articles were added to Westlaw's JLR database between Jan 1, 2003 and Sep 30, 2005. Note that this is a slightly altered definition from previous years which looked e.g. for 2003 articles that were cited by articles also dated 2003. The immediacy index has a bias against journals that do not publish issues regularly through the year. Also note that the numbers of articles are generally low, so if for example a journal only published 6 articles in 2004, but had one successful article that was cited in 30 articles, then the journal would leap to the top of the immediacy index on the strength of just that one article. Methodologically the immediacy index has the same weaknesses as those for the other rankings - citations to articles may have been missed if non-standard citations were used, and counts of articles published (as reported by ILP, Westlaw, Lexis, etc.) are not always consistent or reliable. Look at the General or Specialized data files to see the citation count searches run in Westlaw's JLR database.

Cites per Cost

The Cites per Cost ranking is the average yearly number of cites to the journal divided by the annual US$ cost to U.S. academic libraries. So e.g., a journal with 600 cites per annum and costing $60 would show '10' in the Cites per Cost column.

Journals that are free are ignored for the purpose of this ranking. Strictly they should have an infinite score (cites/0) and be at the top of the ranking, however I take the purpose of this ranking to be a cost-effective analysis for the purpose of purchasing decisions, so ranking free journals seems to counter that purpose. "Average yearly number of cites" is the yearly average of cites as determined by the "most-cited legal periodicals" listing, and its inclusion methodology (described further above) should be kept in mind. Because of the quirky 7 year and 10 month period the cites numerator is calculated by multiplying average cites per month by 12. The year the journal began publication is also considered for recently started journals. So the actual calculation is:
YearDifference = 2005 - YearJournalBegan (if > 7 Then = 7)
Months = (YearDifference X 12) + 10
AdjustedCites = (RawCiteCount X 12) / Months
Cites per Cost = AdjustedCites / AnnualCost (rounded to two decimal places)

To see the cost for any of the U.S. journals you can go to which is a webpage that fits journals (ranked by cites/cost) into a user-supplied budget amount.

One idiosyncracy to note is that (at Georgetown Law Journal's request) cites to Geo. L.J. and the separately published Geo. L.J. Annual Review of Criminal Procedure are merged in the ranking under "Georgetown Law Journal" - consequently the costs for both publications are added into the denominator of the cites/cost calculation.

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