Tuesday, May 17, 2011

SSRN for Current Scholarship

SSRN (the Social Science Research Network) is a great source for research in many fields, including law. Authors can post both published and unpublished papers and anyone can search the abstracts and download interesting works.

One way to find what's new is to browse a subject. You can get to the browse screen from various places. One is a link in the bottom of the first column of text on the homepage:

Recently I clicked + to expand the listings for the Legal Scholarship Network:

I drilled down: Legal Scholarship Network > LSN Subject Matter eJournals > Experimental & Empirical Studies eJournal > LSN: Empirical Studies (Topic).

This topic has 3,580 papers—far too many to browse them all. When I clicked on "i," I saw I could choose the top downloaded papers or the most recently posted papers.  I chose recently posted.  And then I skimmed titles until articles caught my eye. When a title grabbed me, I could click to see the author's abstract and then, if I was still interested, download the paper.

One of the ones that seemed interesting was "Do Judges Vary in Their Treatment of Race?" This paper, posted on April 2, is a study of felony cases in Cook County, IL, that found that defendants were more likely to be incarcerated if they were black (even controlling for many other factors).

"Do Judges Vary in Their Treatment of Race" in the browse list.

Abstract for "Do Judges Vary in Their Treatment of Race?"
This paper will be published in The Journal of Legal Studies, but since it was posted on SSRN, I was able to download it and read it last week. (Today I wrote a post about it on Trial Ad (and other) Notes and I added it to our guide, Race in the Criminal Justice System.)

When you're looking for something specific, searching is more efficient. But when you're just looking around to see what's new and interesting, browsing is very useful.

No comments: