Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Gatekeeping in Legal Scholarship in an Online Age

Paul Horwitz, a visiting professor at the Notre Dame Law School, has recently published a paper on the open access Social Science Research Network entitled 'Evaluate Me!': Conflicted Thoughts on Gatekeeping in Legal Scholarship's New Age:

"Bloggers, SSRN, and online law review supplements like this one have increasingly routed around and weakened, if not undermined, the traditional gatekeepers who certified legal scholars and their scholarship. Is this a good thing? "

"The paper proceeds by examining this question in light of a pair of opposing views and values. The first is Julius Getman's discussion of the eternal tension between elitism and egalitarianism in the life of the scholar. The second is a pair of comments on the role of blogs and other online media in legal scholarship - a positive and optimistic comment by Larry Solum, and a more pessimistic and critical view presented by Brian Leiter. Ultimately, I tend to agree with Solum's optimistic view: the online age has provided new thinkers and writers with multiple routes around the old gatekeepers, and this development should be welcomed. "
At the recent annual conference of the American Association of Law Libraries in New Orleans, I had the opportunity to hear Prof. Solum's optimistic take on how blogs and open access publishing ventures such as SSRN and bePress have "disintermediated" legal scholarship. See my post of July 19, 2007 entitled AALL 2007 Conference - Interesting Workshop Sessions. A description of Solum's comments is in the first section called "Blogging, Disintermediation and the Future of the Law Library".

Other Library Boy posts on the topic of changes in legal scholarship include:

  • Harvard Blog and Legal Scholarship Conference Update (May 11, 2006): "In the past few years, blogs have begun to affect the delivery of legal education, the production and dissemination of legal scholarship, and the practice of law. We are delighted that over twenty of the nation’s leading law professor bloggers have agreed to join with us for the first scholarly conference on the impact of blogs on the legal academy."
  • Open Access Publishing and the Future of Legal Scholarship (March 31, 2006): "A few weeks ago, the Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon hosted a conference on open access publishing in the legal field. 'Interestingly, the open access publishing model has not yet become as popular in legal scholarship as in other fields. Why has legal scholarship lagged in the open access publishing movement? Should law schools, who do the most to fund both the production and publication of legal scholarship, push toward an open access publishing approach?' "
  • More Law Journals Adding Blog Companions (April 20, 2007): "A number of law journals are now leveraging weblog technology to present information and commentary online. Some are offering online weblog 'digests' which supplement the traditional printed journal, while others are solely online. The common thread (...) is a desire for a more timely forum to comment on new developments in the journal's area of coverage"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:36 pm


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