Sunday, October 29, 2006

Redefining Open Access for the Legal Information Market

My latest article, "Redefining Open Access for the Legal Information Market," appears in the Fall 2006 issue of Law Library Journal. I have also posted it on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

The open access movement in legal scholarship, inasmuch as it is driven within the law library community over concerns about the rising cost of legal information, fails to address - and in fact diverts resources from - the real problem facing law libraries today: the soaring costs of nonscholarly, commercially published, practitioner-oriented legal publications. The current system of legal scholarly publishing - in student-edited journals and without meaningful peer review - does not face the pressures to increase prices common in the science and health disciplines. One solution to this problem is for law schools to redirect some of their resources - intellectual capital, reputation, and student labor - to publishing legal information for practitioners rather than legal scholars.
I have two points to make here:

  1. I hope this article will start a dialogue on innovative solutions to the increasing prices of legal information products. The responses that have been adopted in other disciplines, such as open access scholarly publication, do not apply in our context where the cost of scholarly information is negligible compared to the price of practitioner-oriented publications.

  2. Law library literature is almost universally below the radar for law scholars. SSRN offers one medium for law librarians to bring their scholarship to the attention of the professoriate. Why are so few of us taking advantage of SSRN?
(Cross-posted at BWTR).


Betsy McKenzie said...

Dear Jim,
Excellent points! I have thought the open access movement in legal information is such a non-starter, for precisely the reasons you raise. I also like your point that we are talking to one another, not the professoriate in law schools. Good for you! Betsy

Betsy McKenzie said...

Jim, I was so inspired by your example that I've submitted my most recent article to 11 different law reviews (not library affiliated journals). The Expresso service that I used made it very easy for all the journals that they carried. It also automatically added my article draft to the NELLCO BePress Legal Scholarship Archive (similar to SSRN) and to a collection of articles at BePress arranged by schools. I still have to post at SSRN