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Demystifying the SSRN Process: How To Make It Work For You. Susan Hanley Duncan Associate Professor of Law University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law. Legal scholarship Is Changing. Old World of Law reviews New World of wikis, blogs, papers on the Internet Example: John Duffy’s

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Demystifying the ssrn process how to make it work for you l.jpg

Demystifying the SSRN Process: How To Make It Work For You

Susan Hanley Duncan

Associate Professor of Law

University of Louisville

Brandeis School of Law

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Legal scholarship Is Changing

  • Old World of Law reviews

  • New World of wikis, blogs, papers on the Internet

  • Example: John Duffy’s

    Paper on patent


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What is SSRN?

Social Science Research Network

  • Founded in 1994 by 5 people

  • Michael C. Jensen, chairman

  • A leading online research community which houses academic working papers in a number of specialized research networks in each of the social sciences

  • Free submissions and downloads

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How Big is the SSRN Library?

  • A: 50,000

  • B: 100,000

  • C: 190,000

  • D: 250,000

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SSRN Library is 190,000

  • 40,000 new papersper year

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How many downloads have there been to date?

  • A: 15 million

  • B: 22 million

  • C: 35 million

  • D: 70 million

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22 million downloads to date

  • 25 million downloads expected by end of the year

  • Averages to 600,000 per month

  • Really 1.4 million per month if multiple downloads by same person or if count automated bots

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Why People Like It?

  • Idea is to provide feedback

  • If available to general public may make writing more accessible

  • Can have immediate debates on other’s ideas

  • Allows work to have global influence

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Will SSRN be good for women?

  • In old world: Men write and publish more than women in their cohort

  • New world brings:

    Shorter Articles and

    More exposure without travel

  • But beware of blogs

    24-7 quality -who has time?

    Mention on blogs helps SSRN

    Numbers - but who writes the blogs?

    SSRN numbers: 0/50 are women!

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Some Key Features of LSNLegal Scholarship Network

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Legal Scholarship Network's Professional Announcements - Last Update 6/19/08Placing a Professional Announcement

Call for Papers and Participants - ConferencesCall for Papers - CompetitionsCall for Papers - Research ProjectsCall for Papers - Journals and BooksCall for Applicants - Academic ProgramsAwards, Grants, Fellowships, and Scholarships AvailableSSRN Announcements

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Subject Matter Abstracting Journal Last Update 6/19/08

  • Email abstracting Journals cover over 400 different subject areas

  • Announcing New LSN Subject Matter Abstracting eJournalsView Papers:

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SSRN eLibrary Database Search Last Update 6/19/08

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Sample Search by Keywords Last Update 6/19/08

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Results Last Update 6/19/08

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Or Search By Author Last Update 6/19/08

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Author Search Results Last Update 6/19/08

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Top papers Last Update 6/19/08

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Top Authors Last Update 6/19/08

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Starting Your SSRN Author Page Last Update 6/19/08

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Submitting a Paper Last Update 6/19/08

  • You will need the following information:

  • Abstract

  • Names, contact information, and affiliations for all co-authors not in the SSRN database

  • Journal citation (for accepted and forthcoming papers)

  • Permission from copyright holder, if not yourself

  • The email and postal addresses, phone and fax numbers, and the affiliation of the contact author

  • Electronic version of the paper in PDF format (you can create a PDF by downloading a free utility during the submission process or by visiting the Adobe website,

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New Easy Submission Form Last Update 6/19/08

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Video on new simple submission Last Update 6/19/08


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New Feature Last Update 6/19/08Cite Reader Reference & Citation

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New Feature Last Update 6/19/08Cite Reader Reference & Citation

  • Reference tool allows you to click backwards through a paper’s references to find research it was based on

  • Citation tool allows you to click forward in citations to a paper to find those papers which referenced this paper

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Tracking Your Downloads Last Update 6/19/08

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Author Page Last Update 6/19/08

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Other Changes to Come Last Update 6/19/08

  • Recommender System- on abstract page (show 3 to 6 papers that were downloaded by others who downloaded this paper)

  • Commenting and rating papers – beta testing in late 2008 or early 2009

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Writing An Abstract Last Update 6/19/08

  • Generally only 1 out of 5 abstract views results in a download

  • All SSRN downloads start with reader visiting the paper’s abstract page

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Writing Abstracts Last Update 6/19/08

  • Many sources to help with scientific abstracts but not many for law

  • Most list the following components: motivation (why do we care?), problem statement, approach, results, conclusions

  • Taken for granted and we are expected to know how to write one

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Key Components for Law Abstracts Last Update 6/19/08

  • Pique readers interest and curiosity

  • Give information about the topic to be covered

  • Provide the argument you will make – the central thesis must be clear

  • Show how it fits with the other research in that area – what is new and original

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How (not to) Write an Abstract Last Update 6/19/08from Legal History Blog

  • Never write an abstract at the last minute.

  • Never use passive voice (“In this essay, it will be argued that…”

  • No typos or grammatical errors

  • Don’t make it too long – ideal length 250-400 words

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Other hints Last Update 6/19/08

  • Use terms to help it come up in searches

  • Find abstract you like and use as a model

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Piques My Interest Last Update 6/19/08

  • This is not the whole truth. Rather, it is a tale of deception. More precisely, it is a reflection on storytelling and the law. It begins from the premise that stories, by their nature, can never tell the whole truth. Stories are told from a point of view, and that point of view necessarily limits the story. If told from another point of view, the truth of the story would change. To at least some degree, then, stories are incomplete analytical tools, and as such, deceptive. Despite the incomplete nature of stories, they can be powerful tools of persuasion. This creates a dilemma: when does the deception inherent in storytelling make storytelling an inappropriate tool of persuasion in a legal context? This article seeks to define the limits of legal storytelling generally and of storytelling to clients in particular. Johansen, Steven J., "This is Not the Whole Truth: The Ethics of Telling Stories to Clients" . Arizona State Law Journal, Vol. 38, p. 961, 2006 Available at SSRN:

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Gives Information About Topic To Be Covered Last Update 6/19/08

  • Like most writing teachers, the legal writing teacher believes that his reading and response to student work is the most important thing he does, an importance that is underscored by the amount of time it takes. Yet, despite its importance and the hours it consumes, the rhetoric of teacher reading and writing remains relatively unexplored. This article proposes that we begin to apply what we have learned about student reading and writing to our own reading and writing. Our process of reading and responding to student work should be as reflective and rhetorical as the reading and writing process that we suggest for our students. As we read, write, and comment, we should be conscious of the movement of our students and ourselves from meaning to text to reader to writer and back; we should focus as much on planning, monitoring, and revising our own reading and writing as we do on communicating our interpretations of student work; and we should use our own reading and writing experiences to reflect on and respond to what our students are doing.

  • Berger, Linda L., "A Reflective Rhetorical Model: The Legal Writing Teacher as Reader and Writer" . Journal of Legal Writing, Vol. 6, p. 57, 2000 Available at SSRN:

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Central Thesis Must Be Clear Last Update 6/19/08

  • This article discusses recent research about student evaluations of professors (sometimes called student ratings.) Recent studies identify factors that bias the ratings, including the effect of the students' expected grades. Studies also identify negative effects of the ratings, including a lessening of course rigor. The results of the author's study about student ratings are also discussed. Survey respondents were teachers of legal writing in U.S. law schools. Asked whether they had ever refrained from doing something they thought pedagogically sound because it might negatively affect their student ratings, 25% responded yes. Thirty-one percent believed student ratings contribute to a lessening of rigor in law school classes. The article concludes that some universities place undue weight on student ratings in light of their biases and negative effects. It recommends that teaching be evaluated holistically through such means as peer classroom visits and teaching portfolios.

  • Fischer, Judith D., "Implications of Recent Research on Student Evaluations of Teaching" . Available at SSRN:

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Fitting Paper In With Other Research Last Update 6/19/08

  • The Science of Persuasion is among the first law journal articles to analyze social science data on persuasion and human decision-making and use the data to evaluate the conventions of persuasive legal writing. The primary impetus of the article is that the study of the science of persuasion by persuasive legal writers is long overdue, and that lawyers have an obligation to test and re-examine the traditions and conventions of persuasive legal writing using data and theories from other disciplines. Although trial lawyers have taken significant steps to study and probe social science for ideas about how to persuade (or pick) juries, appellate lawyers have been slow to follow. Instead, the study of persuasive legal writing has been dominated by a kind of armchair psychology - a set of conventions and practices, handed down from lawyer to lawyer, developed largely from instinct and speculation. By and large, the information available to lawyers about persuasive legal writing reproduces these conventions and practices without analysis or critique, and without taking stock of the growing body of research from other disciplines that would provide some evidence about whether the conventional wisdom is an accurate account of human decision-making. The Science of Persuasion begins the overdue examination of persuasive theory by analyzing two key concepts: sequential request strategies and audience involvement. Sequential request strategies test whether the content of an initial request can prime the reader to accept a later request. The data about sequential request strategies can inform persuasive legal writing by helping advocates make conscious decisions about the structure of arguments and the crafting of argument chains. Involvement refers to the level of personal relevance or connection felt by the recipient of a persuasive message. The details and nuances of how message recipients respond to appeals to their motivation and investment in the message have the potential to change the way advocates use analogy, policy and emotion in persuasive legal writing. For these two concepts, the article describes and analyzes the social science data and theories and posits how they might inform persuasive legal writing, focusing in particular on how the data might challenge the conventional wisdom of what is persuasive in law. Finally, the article gives concrete examples from appellate briefs to demonstrate how lawyers might incorporate the theories and data into their practice.

  • Stanchi, Kathryn, "The Science of Persuasion: An Initial Exploration" . Michigan State Law Review, p. 411, 2006 Available at SSRN:

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Bibliography Last Update 6/19/08

  • Lawrence B. Solum, Symposium, Download It While It’s Hot: Open Access and LegalScholarship, 10 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 841(2006).

  • Rosa Brooks, What the Internet Age Means For Female Scholars, 116 YaleL. J. 46, (Supp. 2006).

  • Noam Cohen, Now Professors Get Their Star Rankings, Too, N.Y. Times(June 9, 2008) (available at

  • Barbara Kamler & Pat Thomson, Driven to abstraction: doctoralsupervision and writing pedagogies, 9(2) Teaching in Higher Education195 (2004).

  • Philip Koopman, How to Write an Abstract, (accessed July 10, 2008).

  • Mary L. Dudziak, Leg. History Blog, How (not to) Write an Abstract, (Oct. 23, 2007).