Saturday, September 10, 2005

Open Access to Law Articles

From the listserv:

[Please post as widely as possible to lists that serve law professors and academics within law. Apologies for cross-posting.]


This message is about open access archiving for your scholarly articles and papers. "Open access archiving" means that the review/journal which publishes your work also allows authors to make the published work freely available on the public internet, permitting users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles. Open access archiving is a tremendously significant development in scholarly publishing because it disseminates the fruits of your scholarship to the entire world, for no cost. This means a greater audience and greater impact for your work, and an opportunity for you to influence policy and scholarship in locations and arenas where your printed work is never going to reach.

Through Creative Commons, Larry Lessig (Stanford Law School), Michael Carroll (Villanova Law School) and I have been working on a way to encourage law reviews to move towards open access archiving. We have established the "Open Access Law Program" as part of the Science Commons publishing project. The Open Access Law Program provides a number of resources to encourage open access archiving. These resources include a set of Open Access Principles for law reviews (see ) and an Open Access Model Publishing Agreement (see The former is a small number of principles that commit the law review to taking the
least restrictive license consistent with its needs, a promise to provide an electronic copy of the final version of the article to the author, and a commitment to allow public access to the review's standard publishing contract (in the event that it chooses not to use the Model Agreement). The Principles do not ask the law review to undertake the archiving of articles or change the publication format of the law review: they simply ask the review to allow the archiving of articles by authors. The Model Agreement enshrines these commitments in a neutral contract that is easy for both authors and law reviews to accept.

Open access archiving does not change the commercial publication assumptions of journals. Moreover, open access archiving provides a far greater readership and impact for the scholarship published in the journal. It is not rare for open access articles to receive thousands of downloads. Open access archiving is strongly in your interest, and in the interest of the institutions where you work: it provides a greater audience for your scholarship; it expands the reach of the work of student authors and editors who may be at your institution; and it fits within the mission of educational institutions to push back the frontiers of scholarship in law and related fields. I explain this in a recent article called "Walled Gardens", which is available at if you want further details.

I urge you to consider the benefits of open access archiving in law, and recommend a number of steps that you can take. First, you should consider publishing in journals that comply with our Open Access Principles or which generally adopt open access models. For the most committed (and tenured) faculty, we have established an Author Pledge (see ) where the author pledges only to publish in open access journals. At a lower level we encourage authors to negotiate individually with non-OA journals in which they publish, to ensure that they retain copyright and the right to post their work to open access repositories. Recent research demonstrates that authors have higher impact and citation counts when they also place their published work in open access repositories, or otherwise make it freely available on the internet. You should also consider depositing the electronic versions of your work in open access repositories (like the Social Science Research Network or Berkeley Electronic Press).

Second, where you work in a law school that publishes law reviews you should encourage your journals to move to open access archiving. Already twenty-one US law reviews have adopted the Open Access Principles, or have policies that are consistent with them. Leading journals such as Animal Law, Harvard Journal of Law & Technology, Indiana Law Journal, Lewis & Clark Law Review, Michigan Law Review, Michigan State Law Review, New York Law School Law Review, Texas Law Review, Vanderbilt Law Review, and Wayne Law Review have signed on, as have all of the journals published by Duke Law School and Villanova Law School. We'd love to add additional law reviews to this list. I've recently written to the deans of all American law schools asking them to consider encouraging their law reviews to move to open access archiving. Would you please express your support of open access to your dean and law reviews. They can contact me to discuss specifics of a move to open access archiving.

For those law scholars outside the United States, we have established Open Access Law Programs in a number of countries. We have journals that comply with the Open Access Principles in Canada and the United Kingdom. Please get in touch with me if you are interested in the possibilities of open access for law material in your country.

I hope that you agree that this is an important opportunity for you and your institution. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me.


Dan Hunter


Dan Hunter
Robert F. Irwin IV Term Assistant Professor of Legal Studies The Wharton
School University of Pennsylvania
662 John M Huntsman Hall
3730 Walnut St
Philadelphia PA 19104 USA
ph: +1-215-573-7154
fx: +1-215-573-2006
Research at

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