Improving SSRN

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4 Responses

  1. Dan Markel says:

    These are some terrific suggestions. I would add that although SSRN is often the source of some gripes from bloggers, Dan is correct to point out that SSRN really is doing a lot already to promote access to scholarship and deserves our thanks and good will as well.

  2. Stephen Bainbridge just posted an interesting response to this post.

    He agrees with many of my proposals, but he does not believe that my suggestion #4 is akin to his suggestion for an RSS feed. My understanding is that nearly all blogs can be fed into an RSS feeder, so having the blog and an RSS feed can go hand-in-hand. Many people prefer reading things in blog format rather than feed format, so doing the blog with feed satisfies the most preferences.

    Stephen is also not keen with my suggestion of including a list of final versions in emails, primarily because he loathes the SSRN emails. I’m not so down on the emails, but I do wish that they would be consolidated. The ideal solution: People subscribe to all the journals they want, and then abstracts from those journals are automatically combined into one email that is sent out to each person once a week.

  3. Edward Swaine says:

    1. These are very good, somewhat ambitious suggestions. An easier fix that would improve the value of SSRN for finished works, but especially for drafts, would be to speed up the circulation/distribution process. I’ve found the folks at SSRN to be reasonably speedy about posting papers and, on occasions when they have lost a piece for weeks at a time, to be very responsive if prompted. What baffles me is the time it then takes for notice of the posting to go out via the subject-matter and other journals — sometimes it’s months. Am I missing some obvious explanation for this? Maybe the emails’ academic authors are carefully evaluating each and every submission . . .

    Assuming that RSS feeds or their equivalents aren’t adopted, and we don’t have the kind of consolidated emails Dan describes in the comments, at the very least we could have longer (and less frequent) emails that clear the backlog.

    2. One way to determine where SSRN is faltering is to look at what the market’s producing — e.g., excellent blogs like Legal Theory and International Law Reporter, which in part provide publicity for papers of interest to the authors. I don’t think anything will replace them, but it’s interesting that one will often see papers there that get lost in the SSRN mill, or are emerging via email sometime in the next calendar year.

  4. Eric Goldman says:

    Good suggestions, Dan. Re. #6, I blog about my articles when posted to SSRN, and I will include links to third party discussion/commentary about the article if available. So I use my blog to provide this information, and I would likely do so in preference to SSRN’s abstract page. But I think #6 would be very valuable for anyone who doesn’t have a blog.