Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Philosophy Research Network

The Social Science Research Network (SSRN) is expanding to cover many other fields.  One of the 16 fields in its forthcoming Humanities Research Network will be the Philosophy Research Network (PRN). 

The American Philosophical Association announced the PRN in August.  (Thanks to Vincent C. Müller for the pointer.)  From the APA front page:

...The Philosophy Research Network (PRN) is part of the Social Science Research Network, a massive website started 10 years ago or so by scholars in law, economics, business, and so forth. There are hundreds of thousands of papers and abstracts now posted on the SSRN, and in the last 12 months there have been over 3,700,000 downloads of papers through the site. In short, this service is a big success in the social sciences. It is a one-stop place for people to post working papers so that those dealing with related topics can have access to them (free of charge). It thus consolidates and organizes the sort of electronic exchanges that already occur via e-mail, or through private websites. And it improves on such exchanges by allowing users to access new work through keyword, abstract, or author searches.

The PRN will be formally launched later this summer, and you will see an announcement about it from the APA. But we are happy to say that the network is now accessible in a preliminary way, and we invite you to try it out by posting some of your work. You'll need a PDF version of the papers you want to post, and an abstract of each that you can cut and paste into a text box during the posting process....

The PRN will eventually have its own web address, but you can get to it now by going to the SSRN [here]. You will see a full list of the sub-networks. If you expand the Humanities Research Network list (by clicking on the + sign to the left), you will see the one for philosophy. And if you expand that, and then expand the list of "subject matter journals" in philosophy, you will see what we're up to. We recently put up papers of our own just to test-drive the system. Signing on and getting this done the first time is a little bit of a hassle, but after that it's very easy. And your papers can be found on your own personal page (created automatically when you sign up) and by perusing the subject matter areas in which you want them listed.

SSRN is based at the University of Texas, and supports its staff and infrastructure through university sponsorships and institutional subscriptions. The network does very light screening to exclude material of a non-scholarly sort, and to refine the classification of papers--for example, by increasing the number of cross listings. Otherwise there is no peer review, and this posting does not amount to a publication....

Comment.  On the one hand, I'm glad that my field, philosophy, will finally have a discipline-wide repository.  On the other, SSRN imposes restrictions unheard of at other OA repositories.  For example, it adds an SSRN watermark to the pages of some deposited articles and only allows links to SSRN papers in abstracts.  As Vincent Müller pointed out to me, it doesn't support data harvesting by ROAR.  And I don't like the PDF-only limitation.  I plan to monitor the site to see whether SSRN lifts these restrictions.