SSRN and the (Arbitrary) Determination of 'Scholarly' Merit

22 Green Bag 2d 201 (2019)

10 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2019

Date Written: October 24, 2019


This article, published in the Green Bag, investigates and critiques SSRN’s (lack of clear) criteria for classification of material as a “scholarly paper” or “other paper.” In the former category appear to be “scholarly research papers,” bibliographies, briefs filed before some courts, some (but not all) teaching materials, and some (but not all) articles published in the Green Bag, for example. In the latter category are data tables, summary book reviews, opinion pieces, advocacy and satirical papers. “Other papers” are internet-searchable but are not displayed on the author’s SSRN page. Downloads of “other papers” are not included for purposes of SSRN’s various rankings.

The primary problem with SSRN’s classification practices is that they are unclear. Through examples of actual materials that have been accepted (or more often, rejected) by SSRN as "scholarly" papers, the author argues that to the extent that the classification guidelines are discernible at all, they are illogical, arbitrary, and do not serve SSRN’s stated goals. The article concludes with two recommendations. SSRN should make publicly available a clear statement of its classification policies and grant author-initiated appeals of SSRN's decision to classify material as "other papers" as long as the author demonstrates that the material has scholarly or pedagogical value.

Keywords: scholarship, SSRN, classification, arbitrary, opinion, Green Bag

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Crawford, Bridget J., SSRN and the (Arbitrary) Determination of 'Scholarly' Merit (October 24, 2019). 22 Green Bag 2d 201 (2019), Available at SSRN:

Bridget J. Crawford (Contact Author)

Pace University School of Law ( email )

78 North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10603
United States

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