Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Last week, Ethan Leib over at PrawfsBlawg asked whether in the age of SSRN it has become obsolete to send out reprints of finished articles. From the comments to Ethan's post, it appeared that a consensus was forming that sending out reprints is a waste of time and effort. I disagree.
The background point to this whole discussion is that new professors need to pay attention to promoting themselves and their writing. It is not enough to write good stuff. I think that new professors need to put their work in front of people who write in their area repeatedly and as often as possible (short of being completely obnoxious about it). So I think that new profs should post on SSRN, e-mail drafts to people in their field, and send out reprints. Some people pay a lot of attention to SSRN. Some have no idea what it is. Some hate having their e-mail inbox polluted. Some hate having their snail mail inbox polluted. You never know what method will be effective in getting your work in front of someone who will read it and maybe actually do something with it.
Someone (I think at the AALS new teacher's conference) once said that if you can't identify enough people to send out 200 reprints, you aren't being creative enough. I agree. Just after I was leaving practice and entering the academy, I sent out about 200 reprints of my article on The Police Power and the Takings Clause. Most people ignored it, but Bob Dreher at the Georgetown Environmental Law & Policy Institute actually read it. He also cited it in Hawaii's merits brief to the Supreme Court in Lingle v. Chevron. If I hadn't sent the reprint to him, there is very little chance that he would have ever noticed the article. So I think that sending out reprints are worth the time, cost and effort.