Rich Texts: Wikisource as an Open Access Repository for Law and the Humanities

11 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2010

See all articles by Timothy K. Armstrong

Timothy K. Armstrong

University of Cincinnati College of Law

Date Written: March 15, 2010


Open access to research and scholarship, although well established in the sciences, remains an emerging phenomenon in the legal academy. In recent years, a number of open access repositories have been created to permit self-archiving of legal scholarship (either within or across institutional boundaries), and faculties at some leading research institutions have adopted policies supporting open access to their work. Although existing repositories for legal scholarship represent a clear improvement over proprietary, subscription-based repositories in some ways, their architecture, and the narrowly defined missions they have elected to pursue, limit their ability to illuminate the ongoing dialogue among texts that is a defining characteristic of scholarly discourse in law and the humanities. One of the wiki-based projects operated by the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation - the Wikisource digital library - improves upon the shortcomings of existing open access repositories by bringing source texts and commentary together in a single place, with additional contextual materials hosted on other Wikimedia Foundation sites just a click away. These features of Wikisource, if more widely adopted, may improve academic discourse by highlighting conceptual interconnections among works, fostering interdisciplinary collaboration, and reducing the competitive advantages of proprietary, closed-access legal information services.

Keywords: Digital Libraries, Peer Production, Open Access, Legal Scholarship, Wikisource

JEL Classification: L86, O31, O33, O34, O38

Suggested Citation

Armstrong, Timothy K., Rich Texts: Wikisource as an Open Access Repository for Law and the Humanities (March 15, 2010). U of Cincinnati Public Law Research Paper No. 10-09, Available at SSRN: or

Timothy K. Armstrong (Contact Author)

University of Cincinnati College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 210040
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0040
United States

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