To upload or not to upload, that is the question…
After a couple of months as a law professor, I now have a few manuscripts for articles that I am working on. One of my manuscripts is more or less “finished.” There are few footnotes that say things like “cite to UCC incorporation literature” but you can read the piece from beginning to end. It has a complete argument. So now I am in the circulating phase, finding people who can give me criticisms and suggestions for revision going forward. Which leads to my question: Should I fill in the gaps in the footnotes and post this piece to SSRN? There are advantages and disadvantages.
On the positive side of the ledger, posting now will make it easier to distribute the manuscript among various commenters as I can send them to an SSRN page rather than clogging their in boxes with an attachment. Furthermore, to the extent that posting it on SSRN makes the work generally visible, it might attract the attention of someone that I don’t know but who is interested in the field and might give me useful feedback. Finally, from a purely cynical point of view, early posting allows me to boost my download numbers by having reviewers of my early draft access the paper via SSRN.
Then there are the negative sides of the ledger. As it now stands, my manuscript is hardly an embarrassment (I think that I make some good points), but I fully expect to revise it before submitting it to publication. I’ve no doubt that there are problems that I have not seen, and regardless I ought to be able to tighten up and deepen the argument in the face of criticisms offered on the early draft. In other words, should I post an early version of a manuscript that I hope will be improved in later drafts. SSRN is not the same thing as publication, but a paper on SSRN nevertheless becomes part of your public oeuvre. Do you want an early draft to be part of that? Then there is the issue of law review placement. Should one ever post on SSRN prior to submitting to law reviews? Will pre-publication downloads of an early draft impress future articles committees (“Hmm. There seems to be interest in this piece…”) or turn them off (“Hmm. It’s already up on SSRN; nothing new here…”)?
Any thoughts or suggestions?