Duke Law Journals Lead with Open Access to Scholarship

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Duke Law School's seven student-edited journals were prominently featured in the June 6 th unveiling of the Open Access Law Program, an initiative of Creative Commons and its Science Commons Publishing Project. The announcement of the Open Access Law Program was notable not only for the encouragement and support the Program will provide for increasing free access to scholarly literature in law, but for its acknowledgment of Duke Law School's longstanding commitment to making legal scholarship freely available on the World Wide Web to international and interdisciplinary audiences, as well as to legal scholars.

Unlike most other law reviews, Duke's journals all explicitly allow authors to post articles published in the journals without restriction on freely-accessible third party web sites, as well as on Internet sites under their own control. Duke's journals have already been operating in conformance with the newly stated principles of the Open Access Law Program.

William Neal Reynolds Professor of Law James Boyle sees strong institutional benefits from the policy: "The promise that their works will be accessible world wide to anyone with an Internet connection clearly attracts excellent authors to our journals. At the same time, Duke Law satisfies part of our public service obligation to make our research available as widely as possible, without regard to the income of the potential reader. It's a win-win situation."

The seven Duke journals are included among the initial 22 journals listed as providing open access to their works. Since 1996-97, all issues of Duke's student-edited journals have been published in freely available electronic versions on the Law School Web site. Six Duke Law journals also appear in print versions; one, the Duke Law & Technology Review is all electronic. The new Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy will begin publication later this year. At present, of the 36 open access legal journals listed in Lund University's international Directory of Open Access Journals, seven are published at Duke Law.

In a letter to Dean Katharine Bartlett, Dan Hunter, Professor of Legal Studies at The Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania, and co-leader of the Open Access Law Program, congratulated Duke for its leadership in promoting open access to legal literature, saying: “This is a profoundly important and exciting development, and is one that says a great deal about the quality of your law school, law reviews, and their student editors.”

In addition to publishing its journals under open access principles, the Law School encourages Duke faculty to make their own works easily available to other scholars in electronic formats. Duke Law School Information Services has created a comprehensive open repository of current and retrospective Duke Law faculty scholarship at The repository provides full-text access to faculty writings through direct searching, as well as through links from online bibliographies, curriculum vitae and other means. In addition to published works, it will provide access to working drafts, conference presentations, theses and other student writings. The Law School also currently sponsors a legal studies working papers series on the heavily used Social Sciences Research Network and is developing a new SSRN series that will focus on works on science, technology, and innovation.

Duke Law School is well known for its Intellectual Property programs, as well as for being the home of the Center for the Study of the Public Domain. Its leadership in making Duke scholarship freely-available on the web shows that it also practices what it preaches in promoting the values of open access to information.

Professor Boyle credits Richard Danner, Senior Associate Dean for Information Services and Archibald C. and Frances Fulk Rufty Research Professor of Law with having inspired Duke's commitment: "Thanks to Dick's leadership, our journals have all been freely available online since 1996-97. In Internet years, that is an almost geological length of time."