Downloads and abstract views: Applying bibliometrics to SSRN’s Legal Scholarship Network

In Legal Research in Search of Attention: A Quantitative Assessment, 27 King’s Law Journal 170 (2016) Mathias M. Siem writes

[T]he Social Science Research Network (SSRN) is a good platform to test which research is more or less appealing. In the study reported in this article, 1107 papers of SSRN’s Legal Scholarship Network were analysed in order to identify the main determinants of SSRN downloads, abstract views, and downloads per abstract views. This analysis fills a gap in the growing literature that deals with the impact of published research. It is also suggested that examining SSRN is important because its open nature reflects the general trend from offline publications in domestic journals to global availability of publications online.

Here’s the abstract:

In today’s world it is easy to make research publicly available by putting it online. But this improved availability raises the question how to produce research that actually gets attention. Bibliometrics can contribute to this debate. Based on a sample of 1107 papers of SSRN’s Legal Scholarship Network, this article finds that a short title, a top-20 university affiliation, US authorship, and writing about topics of corporate law and international law have a positive effect on downloads and/or abstract views. The article also reflects on the implications of these findings, in particular how they may be related to contentious attempts to identify what is “good” legal research through metrics and peer review.

— Joe

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