Friday, November 14, 2008

Yes to SSRN

I've shared my views on what SSRN downloads mean but the story is not all negative. This occurred to me (probably later than to most) when a friend noted that some schools in sending out their reports of faculty scholarship include only SSRN cites. He thinks the objective is to drive up downloads or possibly to make it more convenient for attorneys to access the articles. My more cynical hunch is that it is a way of not revealing how poorly the scholarship placed.

I emphasize poorly because law review placement is one of those strange things. A great many of us say law review placement is not important and then act completely differently. Maybe SSRN citation only is a way out of this inconsistency. Plus, the SSRN-citation-only idea is a great way of removing, largely 24 or 25 year old, students from the law school and law professor ranking process. Put differently, maybe very differently, isn't a system of no referees better than the current system of student referees? SSRN provides that opportunity.

Even if the schools listing only SSRN cites are doing it just to drive up downloads (the importance of which I think is massively overstated), it seems to me that it is a trend others might consider following.

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