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17 April 2009


Richard Moorhead

I think quite a few publishers, allow such posting automatically in certain circumstances (e.g. its a pre-publication draft or its a certain time period after publication). Not perfect, but its something.

There's a website that helps with this:


Mary Dudziak

Gregg: will SSRN stop removing download counts from authors who have been required by their publishers to take papers off SSRN for copyright reasons? That is something within SSRN's control that you can fix right now. And it would remove a disincentive to posting papers that may have to be removed in the future, making them available at least temporarily.

On the issue of on-line access: presses and journals are currently dealing with the issue of how to stay afloat in the current market and also make work available digitally. The Google Books settlement is part of this, for book publishers. Some presses and journals will try to add value to their subscription-only on-line access, for example by giving on-line content more 2.0/reader interactivity. At least in my field, and including for the more prestigious and widely read journals and presses, authors will continue to be in the position of either taking their paper off SSRN or not publishing in a particular venue. (A contact between Gregg and the editor of a press is not going to change something that was fully aired and that I had to agree to as a condition of publication. Instead, it would be perceived as my backtracking on the conditions of publishing my piece.) Unfortunately, it's just the case that if journals and book publishers cannot make money from our work, they can't continue to publish it.

I suspect that SSRN will have more success in making inroads into the humanities, where SSRN does not have a high profile, if SSRN finds better ways of working with authors who cannot keep working papers on-line once they are published.

Two concrete suggestions: SSRN should allow an author to keep an abstract on SSRN, and retain their accumulated download count, when the paper has to be removed for copyright reasons; and most importantly SSRN should allow a link from the abstract to the journal where the article appears. Right now SSRN does not allow such links. And if you want to keep your accumulated downloads for a later point when a paper can be reposted, you have to make the paper, including the abstract, private, taking everything off SSRN (I had to do that with one paper, after much discussion with SSRN). Changing these two issues would make SSRN a more friendly venue for authors who publish in peer-reviewed journals and books.

Gregg Gordon

Mary: I agree that different fields are at different stages of evolution regarding allowing authors to post their papers online but we have had success with many publishers after talking to them. If you want to send me your contacts at NYU Press and Princeton UP, I would be happy to have someone follow up to understand their concerns and work with them to find a mutually beneficial solution.

Mary Dudziak

In spite of Gregg Gordon's comment, this is indeed a serious problem. Perhaps it affects law & humanities scholars (my field) more than law & social science. I had to pull an essay off SSRN because NYU Press will not let me post until a year after the collection is out. One of my newest papers, forthcoming in a Princeton Univ. Press collection, is not on SSRN because I can't get permission. I expect to have to remove from SSRN my most recently posted paper once I submit it for publication.

Posting inhibits the blindness of peer review, but the most important anonymity in that process, in my view at least, is anonymity of reviewers not authors, since that enables reviewers to make frank comments about needed revisions. I suspect the peer review process is not what keeps some articles off SSRN, but instead copyright considerations.

SSRN is an easier venue for authors who only publish in law reviews, or who publish in fields that don't block posting. Law reviews are supported by their law schools, and I suspect may be less concerned with the need to maintain sales to cover costs, so they tend to be most open to granting permission to post on SSRN. This is one reason that SSRN-related rankings will always be skewed in favor of authors some fields, since others are not able to fully present their work on-line. While the accessibility of scholarship is much more important than the rankings issue, SSRN could help with the latter problem by not deleting accumulated downloads when a paper has to be removed from SSRN for copyright reasons, which is the current practice.

Gregg Gordon

SSRN has great relationships with most publishers and law reviews. They allow and even encourage posting of the final working paper or accepted paper on SSRN. If you have any trouble posting your paper to SSRN, pls let me know so that we can help.

Gregg Gordon, SSRN President

published dood

Is it really that hard?

I just wrote my law review, asked them if it would be OK to put it on SSRN, and they wrote back, "of course it's OK."

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