Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Why OA matters

Mike Carroll, So What? Open Access Law, March 22, 2005. Two quick answers to skeptics who hear about OA (especially for U.S. legal scholarship) and say "so what?" Excerpt: '[1] Open Access Increases an Author's and Journal's Impact. Legal authors generally write scholarly articles to analyze, influence and persuade. Editors of most law journals also seek articles they believe are most likely to influence the development of the law and legal discourse. Empirical studies done on the literature in other disciplines demonstrates that open access increases the number of times an article is read and cited -- the indicia of impact. See, e.g., [Steve Hitchcock's] bibliography of such studies. The consistent finding in other disciplines that open access improves citation rates strongly suggests that open access legal articles also should enjoy greater impact. [2] Open Access Improves International and Interdisciplinary Dialogue. The skeptic may argue that law is different from other disciplines because most of the audience for legal scholarship has access to the relevant databases on Westlaw or Lexis. There are reasons to doubt this claim. Even if it were true, however, the audience for American legal scholarship is growing as legal discourse becomes increasingly international and interdisciplinary. Few lawyers outside of the United States and far fewer academics in other disciplines have access to American commercial legal databases. In my own experience with open access, having one of my articles on the commodification of music posted on the Legal Scholarship Network...has led to a productive dialogue and professional friendship with Marc Perlman, an ethnomusicologist at Brown University.'