Wednesday, April 13, 2005
SSRN and Blogging Subsidies, Redux
My soon to be colleague at FSU, Jon Klick, makes the following astute observations about the use of SSRN and the uses of blogging :
I wonder whether there will be enough buy-in to make the SSRN tournaments enough of a credible signal of school quality to make it worthwhile to subsidize blogging. First, lots of the law and econ schools (the main suppliers for the law series in SSRN) are migrating to BE Press, which will dilute SSRN’s effect. Second, I wonder if law reviews worry about taking an article that has been widely circulated via SSRN to the extent that it reduces its freshness (of course, there could also be the opposite effect that law reviews use SSRN rankings as a screening device . . . I don’t know where I come down on this, but I know one of my law co-authors is hesitant about posting on SSRN because of worries about adverse reactions from the law reviews). If the latter is the case, it will be hard to get law profs to post their articles (I suspect that one of the reasons law and econ people post so much is because they send the bulk of their stuff to peer reviewed journals where freshness is necessarily less impt given the multi-year publication lags).
There is, however, a potential positive effect of blogging in that I suspect law review editors will be drawn to the work of folks who have big blog presences (i.e., use blogging reputation as an additional proxy in their decision rule). Obviously it’s not a rigorous observation, but it would seem that a number of folks who blog have gotten a bump up in their placements as of late. Causality’s always a tough nut to crack (e.g., it could be that blogging simply makes one more productive, get better feedback early on in a work, etc), but one could probably get to the bottom of this by using the econ-side law and econ bloggers (who submit to peer reviewed journals where any blog reputation effect should be muted) as a control. If one were to determine that this effect exists, schools may want to subsidize blogging. However, as more folks blog, the proxy will be used less by editors and the effect gets diluted. So, in the end, it’s not clear that the subsidization equilibrium would be a better equilibrium.
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