SocArXiv – a new open access legal repository?

Introducing SocArXiv, an institutional repository for social sciences.

SocArXiv is modeled on ArXiv, the successful open access preprint repository for scientists. Still in the development stage, SocArXiv is currently a partnership with the University of Maryland and the non-profit Center for Open Science that will be a “free, open access, open source archive for social science research.” ( The “temporary home” of SocArXiv already holds many preprints. At the time of this writing, one preprint has nearly 700 downloads. While there is currently no organizational structure, a quick and dirty search for “law” reveals that legal scholars have discovered and are submitting preprints to SocArXiv.

SocArXiv launched just about a month after the acquisition of SSRN by Elsevier when speculation about maintaining availability of open access scholarship was rampant. Concerns about SSRN include a spate of take-down notices (now abated), questions about Elsevier’s commitment to open access, and its motivation in making the purchase. See Paul Caron’s blog post Is it Time for Authors to Leave SSRN?, Prawfsblog’s SSRN, Elsevier and the Alternatives (again) and In the Open’s For the 1000th time: who will own (and mine) the scholarly record? blog post.

In addition to SSRN’s Legal Scholarship Network, law schools often archive scholarly work at open access repositories that are self-managed (e.g., DSpace) or outsourced to the Digital Commons run by bepress.* Dspace is open source code that requires sufficient institutional technology infrastructure to self-manage the platform. Bepress and Elsevier are vendors of the electronic platforms that hold and organize scholarly output.

From the academic viewpoint, SSRN was generally “free” for scholars submitting research and fee-based for both institutional ejournals and for current awareness services. We’ve received no indication from Elsevier that the fee structure has changed. Bepress has no “free” level – scholars or their institutions must purchase a Selected Works page or Digital Commons package to submit materials. For a more detailed discussion of payment models see Sharing for Social Scientists by Ruth Lewis (May 2016).

If you want to follow development of SocArXiv, the permanent URL will be and the development blog is at In the blawgosphere, information about SocArXiv may be found at LLRX and Prawfsblog.

* For a more complete list of legal repositories, see Robert Richard’s Legal Information System & Legal Informatics Resources: Institutional & Scholarly Repositories: Legal (Selected) at (last retrieved 9/15/2016)



2 responses to “SocArXiv – a new open access legal repository?”

  1. I followed a link I happened to see to get here . Your content might be interesting but at least on my browser I find it almost totally unreadable. The typeface is too thing and the background is dark enough that there is almost no contrast between the type and the background. I would be interested to know how this website would rate on readability.

    1. We hope the changes will add to readability and we will continue to improve.

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