More on Open Access Scholarship

Susan Crawford blogs (natch) Mike Carroll’s talk to law review editors on the importance of open access principles to the underlying ethos of scholarship. Larry Solum comments:

One particular way in which the transition [to an open access publishing norm] can be facilitated is the development of an “open access” norm. Such norms are likely to emerge in particular disciplines first and then spread across disciplines and within academic institutions. In particular, legal academics (who have special “early awareness” of the issue) can begin to foster a professional norm against publication in closed-access, proprietary rights venues. Various technologies of norm building are available. One is public discussion and debate. Another would be the creation of a public vehicle for pledging or vowing to publish in open-access venues whenever that is possible. A third technique would be to engage in polite but pointed criticism of closed-access venues and those who publish in these venues.

Larry is right, but I think that there’s more to the story. Scholars aren’t going to give up the reputational benefits of publishing for prestige. An open access norm isn’t likely to stabilize, at least in law, unless both journal editors and authors somehow incorporate the prestige economy into the open publishing economy.

That’s not necessarily a Herculean task. Faculty know it. Students get it. At Pitt, I talked the other day with the current Editor in Chief, who reported to me that the number one topic of discussion for his board is how to improve the law review’s citation rank. How do you do that? Get the content out there. Allow authors to post to SSRN and BePress (which the law review does), and put its content on the Web in a timely way (which the law review knows that it needs to do).