Wednesday, November 20, 2019
Bridget J. Crawford (Pace), SSRN and the (Arbitrary) Determination of 'Scholarly' Merit, 22 Green Bag 2d 201 (2019):
This article, published in the Green Bag, investigates and critiques SSRN’s (lack of clear) criteria for classification of material as a “scholarly paper” or “other paper.” In the former category appear to be “scholarly research papers,” bibliographies, briefs filed before some courts, some (but not all) teaching materials, and some (but not all) articles published in the Green Bag, for example. In the latter category are data tables, summary book reviews, opinion pieces, advocacy and satirical papers. “Other papers” are internet-searchable but are not displayed on the author’s SSRN page. Downloads of “other papers” are not included for purposes of SSRN’s various rankings.
The primary problem with SSRN’s classification practices is that they are unclear. Through examples of actual materials that have been accepted (or more often, rejected) by SSRN as "scholarly" papers, the author argues that to the extent that the classification guidelines are discernible at al, they are illogical, arbitrary, and do not serve SSRN’s stated goals. The article concludes with two recommendations. SSRN should make publicly available a clear statement of its classification policies and grant author-initiated appeals of SSRN's decision to classify material as "other papers" as long as the author demonstrates that the material has scholarly or pedagogical value. ...
Like others, I am waiting to see if an alternative to SSRN develops. Until then, the SSRN downloads remain the coin of the realm in many subsdisciplines in law. For now, I think the answer to Brian Frye’s, “Why judge” question is: “SSRN does because it can.”