Free Scholarship: Developing a National Legal Scholarship Library
Chapter for publication in Peruginelli, G and Faro, S (Eds.) Access to legal scholarship: Tools, approaches, technologies (Giappichelli, Italy, 2016, Forthcoming)
18 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2016 Last revised: 1 Jun 2016
Date Written: March 15, 2016
This chapter considers how a country’s legal scholarship can become a major resource on a free access legal information institute (LII). It commences with an analysis of the attractions of global legal scholarship facilities (e.g. SSRN’s Legal Scholarship Network (LSN) and Google Scholar) to authors and users, and considers by comparison what advantages a nationally-focused scholarship facility can provide. The initial conclusion is that a combination of the two (global and national) is likely to be the most desirable result for both users and authors. 'Open content' is distinguished from ‘free access’, and it is argued that the latter is more important than the former to the public interest in access to scholarship.
The development since 2008 of the ‘Australasian Legal Scholarship Library’ by the free access Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) is explained. The Library now includes over 67,000 full text searchable items of free access Australasian legal scholarship in 184 databases. An additional 50 journals are being digitised. The Library includes 128 law journals (most back to their first issues), plus law school research repositories, judicial scholarship databases, historical legal monographs, law texts from open content publishers, law reform reports and law thesis abstracts. The Library is also integrated with AustLII’s LawCite citator, which automatically tracks citation of scholarship in the case law and scholarship on AustLII and on all LIIs with which AustLII cooperates in the LawCite and WorldLII projects.
The chapter then considers how the Library could be re-conceptualised in light of what is provided by global legal scholarship services, and its ongoing relationship with such services. Proposed technical enhancements are discussed such as ‘AustLII authors pages’, metrics for each item of scholarship, and for each law journal, and improved feedback mechanisms. Many improvements are possible.
The chapter concludes with an assessment of the factors in the Australian context that have been most conducive to the Library’s development so far. While not all of these may be replicated elsewhere (e.g. numerous law-school-published journals; research infrastructure funding), most elements are not jurisdiction-specific (or have analogues), and therefore may be of broader relevance.
Keywords: scholarship, free access to law, Australia, AustLII
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