Many law professors now post essentially complete drafts of their articles on SSRN and/or on university-sponsored working paper websites prior to submitting those articles for journal review and possible publication. This “prepublication publication,” so to speak, is useful for both authors and their readers, but it raises some self-plagiarism issues. There does not yet appear to be a broad consensus among journal editors on how those issues should be addressed. I argue that this increasingly common practice of SSRN and working paper prepublication of articles prior to their submission for journal review should be recognized as entirely appropriate, particularly if this prior publication is disclosed in the journal submission or is otherwise called to the attention of the journal editors. I also argue that in light of this practice law journals should rather substantially change the way that they operate. They should move to a wholly online format and provide only article abstracts and website links for the articles that they “accept,” rather than editing the articles and then providing their readers with full article texts.
Gregory Scott Crespi,
SMU L. Rev. F.