Paul L. Caron

Monday, July 18, 2016

Is It Time For Authors To Leave SSRN?

ESSRNFollowing up on my previous post, Elsevier Acquires SSRN:  Authors Alliance, Is It Time for Authors to Leave SSRN?:

As feared, it now appears that SSRN is taking up restrictive and hostile positions against authors’ ability to decide when and how to share their work. Reports are surfacing that, without notice, SSRN is removing author-posted documents following SSRN’s own, opaque determination that the author must have transferred copyright, the publisher had not consented to the posting, or where the author has opted to use a non-commercial Creative Commons license. One author, Andrew Selbst, reported that SSRN refused his post even though the article’s credits reflected his retained copyright.

This policy fails to honor the rights individual authors have negotiated in order to put their work on services like SSRN. It misreads the Creative Commons licenses authors adopt in order to share their work. And it is a marked departure from the standard notice and takedown procedures typically used to remove user-uploaded copyright-infringing works from the web, eliminating both any apparent notice from the putative copyright owner and any clear recourse for the affected authors.

SSRN authors: you have not committed to SSRN. You can remove your papers from their service, and you can opt instead to make your work available in venues that show real commitment to the sharing, vetting, and refinement of academic work.

Just recently, SocArXiv—a new social sciences preprint archive built on the model pioneered in physics by arXiv—opened their doors to submissions. SocArXiv is supported by the University of Maryland, not run for profit, and formed with an explicit commitment to openness in academic writing. They are still in early days, but appear to be building a promising successor community to SSRN.

It is also important to remember that your work does not need to be restricted to any one venue. Try SocArXiv, but also see if you can host your work in an institutional repository or on a personal website. Make your work available wherever it can best reach your readers. It is also worth protesting the practices that would restrict your work’s availability and reach by leaving the services adopting them. If the reports about SSRN’s new practices are accurate, then it may be time to leave SSRN and adopt more author-friendly alternatives.


Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink


If Elsevier continues on this unacceptable path, an alternative service worth considering is

Posted by: Candice Hoke | Jul 19, 2016 3:40:55 PM

I always thought that the first thing Elsevier would do to anger the SSRN community, would be to throw up an enormous paywall.

Posted by: Old Ruster from JD Junkyard | Jul 18, 2016 9:46:32 PM

Encouraging moves and a classic Internet-like response. When there is a problem, route around it. Let the troublemaker wither and die from disuse.

Outside academic and research circles, quite a few authors and publishers would be happy to see ISBNs, which are allocated in the U.S. by the Elsevier-like Bowker monopoly, replaced by a registration system more in keeping with digital publication and that doesn't charge independent authors and small publishers huge fees.

Posted by: Michael W. Perry | Jul 18, 2016 2:56:40 PM

I could see a dean, and professors, being pissed that their school dropped in the SSRN download "rankings LOL" as a result of paper pulling, and that being motivation enough to stay...

Posted by: Anon | Jul 18, 2016 12:55:06 PM