Open Access Law Journals – “One Journal at a Time”

Judy Janes and Marissa Andrea just published a good article on open access law journals.  Their article, “One Journal at a Time,” includes a few paragraphs providing “a brief history of open access.”  In addition, they comment upon how “the success of RSS feeds, SSRN alerts and SMARTCILP/CLJC email updates has further accelerated the transition to Open Access journals.”

In their “Learn More” section of the article they link to a video presentation where Dick “Danner discusses Open Access and the Durham Statement and also his paper entitled “The Durham Statement on Open Access One Year Later: Preservation and Access to Legal Scholarship” available at SSRN.”

Other resources linked in the Janes and Andrea article include:

Directory of Open Access Journals

Science Commons Open Access Law Project

and

New York Law School list of law reviews with online content

This movement will benefit us all, as Janes and Andrea state it:

. . . As more journals become available on the Internet through an initiative called Open Access, published legal scholarship — once only available in print form from law libraries, or online through proprietary databases ­— will reach a wider audience. This is a movement not only benefiting practicing attorneys, but historians, scholars and members of the public with legal research interests, who will be able to access legal scholarship by simply googling a topic.

Columbia Science and Technology Law Review Goes Open Access

From an announcement on their website:

Letter from the EIC

Hello, and welcome to Volume X of the Columbia Science and Technology Law Review.

Starting with this volume, we’ve made two significant changes to how we publish, and I wanted to write this note to explain those changes and why we did them.

First, we’ve decided to meet the standards set out by the Open Access Law Program and formally seek to become an Open Access Law Journal. To that end, we’ve refined our author agreement (already very liberal) to explicitly ensure that authors retain their copyrights, and we’re making our agreement public on our website. At the same time, we’re also embracing open publication, formally putting our articles under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial No-Derivatives license, and allowing our authors to distribute themselves under even more liberal licenses if they so choose.

Second, in order to meet the standards set forward by the Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship, we’re moving our backend from our own server to professionally maintained, archival-quality services run by the Columbia Library. We were already publishing in the relatively open PDF format. As a result of these two choices, we can now be fully confident that our digital scholarship has the same permanence and long-term “shelf life” as a paper journal- a big step forward for digital scholarship in general.

For readers of our journal, these two small changes should not have much impact. Expect the same high quality content, delivered more reliably, and with clearer terms explaining your ability to use and share our scholarship with others. In addition, as a result of our partnership with the Columbia Libraries, in coming volumes you’ll see new functionality on our website, like subscriptions via email.

For authors, both current and future, we expect that these changes will improve our already high citation rankings. It will also clarify your rights and make sure that your writing benefits you, first and foremost. Authors interested in these benefits, should, of course, feel free to contact us about publication!

It has been a pleasure and an honor to serve with a terrific, patient staff this year; we hope you enjoy and learn from the results, as we have.

Sincerely,

Luis Villa

Editor-in-Chief, STLR Volume X

 

More on the Durham Statement here, here, and here.

Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship

Last November, at the time of the Duke Law building dedication, I joined with several of my colleagues for a terrific meeting in Durham, North Carolina.  One product of that meeting is the “Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship,” (copied below) which calls for all law schools to stop publishing their journals in print format and to rely instead on electronic publication coupled with a commitment to keep the electronic versions available in stable, open, digital formats.

Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship 11 February 2009

 

Objective: The undersigned believe that it will benefit legal education and improve the dissemination of legal scholarly information if law schools commit to making the legal scholarship they publish available in stable, open, digital formats in place of print. To accomplish this end, law schools should commit to making agreed-upon stable, open, digital formats, rather than print, the preferable formats for legal scholarship. If stable, open, digital formats are available, law schools should stop publishing law journals in print and law libraries should stop acquiring print law journals. We believe that, in addition to their other benefits, these changes are particularly timely in light of the financial challenges currently facing many law schools.

 

Rationale: Researchers – whether students, faculty, or practitioners – now access legal information of all sorts through digital formats much more frequently than in printed formats. Print copies of law journals and other forms of legal scholarship are slower to arrive than the online digital versions and lack the flexibility needed by 21st century scholars. Yet, most law libraries perceive a continuing need also to acquire legal scholarship in print formats for citation and archiving. (Some libraries are canceling print editions if commercial digital versions are available; others continue to acquire print copies but throw them away after a period of time.)

 

It is increasingly uneconomical to keep two systems afloat simultaneously. The presumption of need for redundant printed journals adds costs to library budgets, takes up physical space in libraries pressed for space, and has a deleterious effect on the environment; if articles are uniformly available in stable digital formats, they can still be printed on demand. Some libraries may still choose to subscribe to certain journals in multiple formats if they are available. In general, however, we believe that, if law schools are willing to commit to stable and open digital storage for the journals they publish, there are no longer good reasons for individual libraries to rely on paper copies as the archival format. Agreed-upon stable, open, digital formats will ensure that legal scholarship will be preserved in the long-term.

 

In a time of extreme pressures on law school budgets, moving to all electronic publication of law journals will also eliminate the substantial costs borne by law schools for printing and mailing print editions of their school’s journals, and the costs borne by their libraries to purchase, process and preserve print versions.

 

Additionally, and potentially most importantly, a move toward digital files as the preferred format for legal scholarship will increase access to legal information and knowledge not only to those inside the legal academy and in practice, but to scholars in other disciplines and to international audiences, many of whom do not now have access either to print journals or to commercial databases.

 

Call to Action: We therefore urge every U.S. law school to commit to ending print publication of its journals and to making definitive versions of journals and other scholarship produced at the school immediately available upon publication in stable, open, digital formats, rather than in print. We also urge every law school to commit to keeping a repository of the scholarship published at the school in a stable, open, digital format. Some law schools may choose to use a shared regional online repository or to offer their own repositories as places for other law schools to archive the scholarship published at their school.

 

Repositories should rely upon open standards for the archiving of works, as well as on redundant formats, such as PDF copies. We also urge law schools and law libraries to agree to and use a standard set of metadata to catalog each article to ensure easy online public indexing of legal scholarship.

 

As a measure of redundancy, we also urge faculty members to reserve their copyrights to ensure that they too can make their own scholarship available in stable, open, digital formats. All law journals should rely upon the AALS model publishing agreement as a default and should respect author requests to retain copyrights in their scholarship.

 

Richard A. Danner

Duke Law School

 

Taylor Fitchett

University of Virginia

 

Margaret A. Fry

Georgetown University Law Center

 

Paul M. George

University of Pennsylvania School of Law

 

Claire M. Germain

Cornell Law School

 

S. Blair Kauffman

Yale Law School

 

J. Paul Lomio

Stanford Law School

 

Harry S. (Terry) Martin III

University of Texas Law School

 

Kent McKeever

Columbia Law School

 

Jim McMasters

Northwestern University School of Law

 

John G. Palfrey

Harvard Law School

 

Radu Popa

New York University Law School

 

Judith M. Wright University of Chicago Law School