Saturday, November 28, 2015

Why Haven’t Most Law Reviews Transitioned from Print to Digital?

Many law journals distribute their articles online or have online supplements. However, the overwhelming number still publish in print. But how many readers look at the printed volumes and why do law schools continue to shoulder the burden of hard copy printing?

In 2009, a dozen law school librarians signed on to the Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship calling on law journals to abandon print in favor of digital dissemination:

 “OBJECTIVE: The undersigned believe

that it will benefit legal education and

improve the dissemination of legal scholarly

information if law schools commit to

making the legal scholarship they publish

available in stable, open, digital formats

in place of print. To accomplish this end,

law schools should commit to making

agreed-upon stable, open, digital formats,

rather than print, the preferable formats

for legal scholarship. If stable, open, digital

formats are available, law schools should

stop publishing law journals in print and

law libraries should stop acquiring print

law journals.

— February 11, 2009

Although some specialized journals have gone digital, few general journals have. In his brief article, Benjamin Keele offers his thoughts on the reason for the slow transition:

This essay discusses why law journals have not readily transitioned to primarily digital publication. It suggests this is because of the perceived connection between prestige and print publication, and relatively weaker support for law journal editors for robust digital publishing. Finally, it offers suggestions to law libraries supporting digital publishing of law journals.

You can access the article here. Ironically, you will find the article easier to read if you download it and print it. I don’t think a major transition will occur until a main journal at a very elite law school makes the switch. Then, others will follow.


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