What process does a manuscript undergo before it emerges as an Institute publication?
“As head of the Institute, I am responsible for the initial screening of manuscripts sent to us by authors. Every manuscript is sent to two or three external readers, who express their opinion as to whether it is worthy of publication by the Institute. If the decision is positive, they may also suggest changes that should be made to the manuscript. We receive these opinions and forward them to the authors. In most cases the authors are grateful for the input and improve the manuscript on the basis of these comments.”
What do you look for in your preliminary screening?
“It’s important to understand that our standards for publication are very high. The authors are aware of this. In addition, we do not usually accept manuscripts with a purely practical focus: we are interested in books that include a strong academic foundation. This is not enough in itself, however. We also want to make sure that the book shows strong academic quality from start to finish. These considerations influence the criteria we use in examining manuscripts. Since the legal community is well aware of our high demands, we do not usually receive poor-quality manuscripts. The Institute’s literary genres include monographs and collections of articles. These may be initiated by the editors themselves or by the Institute. In the collections, too, we are committed to the highest academic standards.”
This sounds like a protracted process. Doesn’t it create all kinds of problems?
“We do our best to make the process as short as possible, and it is usually completed within a few months. Our agreement with Nevo means that the technical production stages are completed very quickly. The books are published at a high standard of finishing in technical and visual terms. Our cooperation with Nevo results in products that can stand their own against the publications of any similar institution. Delays are usually caused when the authors have to respond to comments, make changes, proofread the draft and add indexes and so forth. Sometimes we have a problem finding referees with expertise in the area covered by the book who can offer their opinion on the manuscript. Again, we try to work efficiently without compromising the quality of the opinions. By the way, this is a great opportunity to thank all the referees who perform their task with such devotion.”
Professor David Glicksberg, one of the leading experts on taxation in the State of Israel, was appointed head of the Institute in 2012. Previous occupants of this position include some prominent names in the Israeli legal world. The first head of the Institute was Dr. Uri Yadin, and subsequent heads included Yitzhak Zamir, Yitzhak Englard, Gabriela Shalev, Celia Wasserstein-Fassberg, Miri Gur-Aryeh, Shimon Shetreet, Michael Karayanni, and many others. The Institute’s board includes Dr. Benny Porat and Professor Shimon Shetreet, in addition to Professor Glicksberg.
Does the Institute focus exclusively on publishing books?
“No. We are the publishers of the Hebrew University Law Review and the Journal on Legislation. We also organize seminars and conferences, and we publish the Jerusalem Review of Legal Studies in cooperation with Oxford University Press. We also provide an annual post-doctorate scholarship to help encourage the young generation of scholars.”
What challenges are you facing today?
“One of the main problems we are examining is the impact of globalization on our publications. Today, the Israeli legal community shows a strong preference to publish its works in languages other than Hebrew and on foreign platforms. This also affects the willingness of the academic community to contribute articles to books other than monographs, such as collections of articles. The editors and the Institute apply intensive pressure to convince members of the community to write books in Hebrew intended for the domestic market.”
Isn’t globalization also affecting you?
“As I mentioned, globalization has had a strong impact in terms of the willingness of scholars to write in Hebrew. I am currently working on a cooperative arrangement with a very large European publisher in order to enable the publication of works in English. One of the ways journals are coping with the process of globalization is to produce single-theme issues based on a seminar. For example, the Hebrew University Law Review held a seminar last June featuring empirical and behavioristic studies.”
What are you working on just now?
“We are very busy publishing a wide variety of books. I already mentioned the book by Professor Ariel Porat of Tel Aviv University. We are also about to publish a particularly comprehensive study in the field of private international law written by Professor Celia Fassberg. The list is very long. We are working on several collections of articles. The Institute also recently initiated a memorial publication honoring the late Justice Elon, deputy president of the Supreme Court, who passed away a few months ago.”