Yale Law School Champions Open Legal Scholarship with the Launch of Law Archive

April 1st, 2024,

Yale Law School has launched Law Archive, a new branded preprint service developed using the OSF infrastructure. This initiative reflects a commitment to facilitating the free and open sharing of legal research and scholarship, echoing a broader movement within academic communities towards greater accessibility and transparency.

“The importance of free, reliable, and open access to legal scholarship and information is critically important,” said Heather Gerken, Yale Law School Dean. “Yale Law School is invested in pushing forward innovative initiatives like Law Archive, that provide equitable access to legal information.”

“There are limited options for researchers and scholars to deposit scholarship in a repository without bearing some type of cost, either monetarily or by ceding control over their data,” said Femi Cadmus, Law Librarian and Professor of Law, Yale Law School, who leads Law Archive's Advisory Board and Steering Committee. “The primary goal of Law Archive is to break down barriers to access to legal scholarship and information by developing a truly free and open platform for the sharing of research.”

The Importance of Preprints in Legal Research

Preprints serve as an essential medium in the rapid dissemination of research findings, offering scholars the opportunity to share their work ahead of peer review. The introduction of Law Archive into the legal academic sphere is a significant stride towards accelerating the exchange of new ideas and enhancing collaborative efforts among legal scholars.

“Legal scholarship can cause transformative change in the way we see and understand the law,” said Roger Skalbeck, Law Archive Advisory Board Member; Professor of Law, Associate Dean for Library and Information Services; and Co-Director of the Intellectual Property Institute at the University of Richmond School of Law. “We regularly experience ways that works can be truly persuasive, with judges, lawyers, and the public. The best way to maximize visibility and potential for persuasive power is through open access.”

Making the Law Accessible to All

“The law ought to be accessible to everyone,” said Law Archive co-administrators Michael VanderHeidjen, Associate Director for Scholarly & Research Services, Yale Law School and Nor Ortiz, Technology & Research Librarian, Yale Law School. “Without the context and analysis that we find in legal scholarship, it can be difficult to understand the law and recognize its impact. And as much as the law is constructed by our society, our society should be involved in the conversation about the law. Openly accessible papers in legal scholarship help expand the conversation about the law.”

Law Archive is designed to expand the accessibility and dissemination of legal scholarship, creating an environment where research is freely available and inclusively shared, particularly aiding those in underserved communities who might face difficulties in accessing vital legal information.

The distinction between Law Archive and its predecessor, LawArXiv, is notable in terms of governance and focus. With the transition to a model under the Yale Law Library's umbrella, there is an unwavering commitment to hosting free and open legal scholarship, supported by an advisory board of librarians and law faculty. This structure aims to streamline decision-making and enhance the platform's ability to serve the legal academic community for years to come.

Since the retirement of LawArXiv, the OSF Preprints platform, which hosts the new Law Archive, has undergone significant enhancements. Key enhancements include:

  • Enabling all-time preprint views and downloads to detail pages
  • Integration of Plaudit to allow users to signal endorsements of papers/preprints
  • Integration with Hypothes.is to enable annotation from readers
  • Discovery features extended to enable browsing by all key metadata items and relationships

These improvements are designed to enrich the user experience, foster community engagement, and expand the discoverability of preprints and published papers. 

Collaborative Support for Open Scholarship

Yale's Law Archive initiative is part of a larger movement towards open scholarship, underscored by the Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation's (IPLC) support for OSF Preprints. This collaboration among Ivy Plus Libraries, including Yale, aims to enhance research accessibility and equity. The financial backing for OSF Preprints by these institutions signifies a united commitment to fostering an open, equitable research ecosystem.

Additionally, Yale Law School's OSF Institutions membership further underscores the institution's dedication to open science practices. 

“In addition to helping our researchers manage and share the provenance of their research, Yale Law School’s OSF Institutions membership will multiply the outputs and impacts of their research,” said Alex Jakubow, Director of Empirical Research and Data Services, Yale Law School, and Law Archive Steering Committee member. “Through leading by example, our researchers will help raise scientific standards for legal scholarship.”

Contributing to Law Archive enables scholars to be part of a more open, diverse dialogue within legal academia. By leveraging the capabilities of the OSF platform, Law Archive aspires to democratize legal knowledge, fostering a community where free exchange of ideas and collaborative scholarship thrives.

Learn more and explore Law Archive. If you are interested in moderating for Law Archive, contact lawarchive@yale.edu.

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