29 Pages Posted: 30 Dec 2004
The most significant recent development in scholarly publishing is the open access movement, which seeks to provide free online access to scholarly literature. Though this movement is well-developed in scientific and medical disciplines, American law reviews are almost completely unaware of the possibilities of open access publishing models. This Essay explains how open access publishing works, why it is important, and makes the case for its widespread adoption by law reviews. It also reports on a survey of law review publication policies conducted in 2004. This survey shows, inter alia, that few law reviews have embraced the opportunities of open access publishing, and many of the top law reviews are acting as stalking horses for the commercial interests of legal database providers. The open access model promises greater access to legal scholarship, wider readership for law reviews, and reputational benefits for law reviews and the law schools which house them. This Essay demonstrates how open access comports with the institutional aims of law schools and law reviews, and is better suited to the unique environment of legal publishing than the model that law reviews currently pursue. Moreover, the institutional structure of law reviews means that it is possible that the entire corpus of law reviews could easily move to an open access model, making law the first discipline with a realistic prospect of complete commitment to free, open access of all scholarly output.
Keywords: Open Access, Legal Publishing
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