Legal Scholarship, Electronic Publishing, and Open Access

By Kristopher A. Nelson in

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SSRN-Legal Scholarship, Electronic Publishing, and Open Access: Transformation or Steadfast Stagnation? by Stephanie Plotin:

Abstract:
This article uses a social shaping of technology perspective, which studies the complex interactions between technology and the culture of a discipline, to investigate the evolution of legal scholarship in the digital age, and to determine how the open access movement has influenced various forms of legal scholarship, particularly law reviews, their online companions, and legal blogs.

An interesting look at open access in the law journal context:

A sociotechnical or social shaping of technology perspective is helpful in
explaining how technology and electronic publishing have impacted scholarly legal
communication. Those taking an information-processing view, focusing on the
technical features of electronic media, have either predicted sweeping changes that
have not come to pass or are advocating the adoption of technical changes without
considering the existing academic culture. In contrast, a focus on scholarly legal
culture and the institutions and participants interacting within it explains why
certain things (law reviews) have mostly stayed the same, while other forms (electronic repositories, legal blogs) have embraced the possibilities of the available
technology. Technology influences legal scholarship and culture, legal scholarship
and culture influence technology, and the results require an understanding
of both.

The article includes a discussion about legal blogs:

Just as specialized law reviews provided a forum for “outsider scholar-
ship,” legal blogs provide an electronic forum for discussions about topics such as
critical race theory, affirmative action, feminism, and sexual orientation law. These blogs can provide a virtual community where scholars can connect and
express views that are not well represented in mainstream legal publications, in
addition to connecting with a wider community of readers. . . . Finally, the popularity of legal blogs can be seen as an indicator of larger
changes in legal scholarship.

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