I want to follow up on a previous post I wrote back in October that, in part, discussed open access in scholarship and The Durham Statement. As a reminder, and for those of you who might be new to this party, The Durham Statement, “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.”
An article was published recently as a part of The University of Georgia Law School Research Paper Series, “Citation Advantage of Open Access Legal Scholarship,” which helps to further promote the proposition that opening up this secondary source material in digital format provides real benefits. Not only does this advance the greater philosophical principals of knowledge as a human right and a public good, but open access can positively impact the work and reputation of law faculty by supporting their professional goals to get their work published and, more specifically, cited, which is now a common benchmark used in tenure review.
As the article notes, “[i]n academia, where once the frequently quoted demand to faculty was to publish or perish, today the more appropriate adage might well be to publish, get cited, or perish. If one must choose, far better to have one article of enormous significance than tens of articles fallen dead before they see the light of publication.”
In light of this, the authors studied articles in three University of Georgia law journals to see if a correlation existed between open access and article citation, finding that, “Open access availability offers a consistent citation advantage, especially during the years immediately following publication.”
Reading the article got me thinking about our own work here at Justia which focuses on, among other things, opening up access to to primary source legal materials. In our own version of “publish, get cited or perish,” it’s not enough to simply provide open and free electronic access to this source material – the way to advance and increase its use and public value is to also create a vendor neutral citation system along with it.
Here’s Courtney’s take, which I think says it best:
Vendor neutral citation can help promote citation of the law by nature of its accessibility. If a case is easily found and directly citable from its birth, it stands to reason that it will be cited more often.
So with that said, stay tuned . . . we’re working on it!