Tuesday, May 24, 2011
A Petty Plea to Our Friends at SSRN
I probably download five to seven articles a day from SSRN, which, to be clear, is not how necessarily how many articles I actually read. I have two quibbles about the downloading process. First, when I click on One-Click Download, I normally I have to click it twice for it to actually download. What's up with that?
More importantly, when it downloads, I have to rename each paper that I plan on keeping. That's because the paper defaults to be saved as SSRN-idXXXXXXX, where the X's are some random # associated with SSRN's filing system. I understand that, to the SSRN database, each of our papers is just a random #. So sad. Seriously though, to users, we normally save papers with some useful descriptor so we can identify it quickly in our My Docs folders: e.g., Leib on Friendship 2011. My preference would be that SSRN create a better name default so we don't have to rename the papers once they're downloaded. I would prefer something like Markel 2011 on Democracy and Retributivism. Name, year, and a phrase. If you wanted to rename it on your own you could, but there'd be a useful default name at least. And when the author is submitting the paper to SSRN, she could be given the choice of what the short name would be if she didn't like the default.
If this were possible, it would save me a few minutes a day, and I'd have a better organized documents folder. So Gregg Gordon, can it be done? A few minutes here, a few minutes there, pretty soon you're talking real time! Whether that's more time for more scholarship or Angry Birds, I leave to you...
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While they're at it: I would love it if, when I export a citation to Endnote, it would include the abstract as an exported field.
Posted by: Jennifer Hendricks | May 24, 2011 11:22:32 AM
I agree with Dan's comments, but my biggest request would be for the citation system to work. It seems like the feature has been in beta for years. Not only are the counts completely inconsistent and incorrect, but SSRN seems to be seriously underutilizing one of the Internet's fundamental features: the ability to see numerous linkages between documents. If SSRN could even link even a quarter the articles cited in a particular piece that are available on SSRN, that would a drastic improvement.
Posted by: Corey Rayburn Yung | May 24, 2011 11:56:24 AM
I'm with Corey. The citation system is meaningless and ought to be abandoned until they can come up with something that at least approaches accuracy. As for Dan's comments, I don't care so much about renaming the saved document, but I have always found it annoying that I have to double click in order to download the document.
Posted by: Miriam Baer | May 24, 2011 12:14:03 PM
Why not just include a field in which authors could direct how the file should be named? The default could be Last Name, Date, First Five Words of Title.
Posted by: Hillel Y. Levin | May 24, 2011 12:20:44 PM
Unless I miss what you are talking about re: the second click, that is entirely dependent on your browser setting. The first click sends the file as a pdf to your browser and then the browser has to decide what to do with it.
At least on my installation Chrome (v.11) saved it by default. Firefox (v.4) asked whether to save or open it (that can be changed in options -> applications) and Internet Explorer (v.9) asked whether to save or open (couldn't find how to change that.)
Posted by: Brad | May 24, 2011 12:47:24 PM
I should say that I have had some sporadic luck with the doc opening on one click in Chrome, but I don't know why it's only sporadic.
Jennifer, I suspect I'm under-utilizing this Endnote thing, but you've inspired me to find out. :-)
Posted by: Dan Markel | May 24, 2011 2:12:44 PM
My sense is that the citation system works pretty well in other disciplines that rely primarily on end notes. Law folks get the short end of the stick here because our citations are scattered throughout the document rather than helpfully collected at the end. That hardly seems like an insurmountable problem, but it is at least a partial explanation.
Posted by: Aaron | May 24, 2011 2:41:45 PM
Great point. While less used in the legal academy, I find that the Berkeley Electronic Press Selected Works interface and download process is superior to SSRN. In BePress From a paper's "page" one click opens the paper in a new window within my browser's .PDF program, from there I just click SaveAs and name it appropriately.
For SSRN I have the same problems you have. Because this happens with SSRN but not BePress I'm led to believe it's an SSRN problem, not a browser setting problem contra Brad's point (but maybe I'm missing something).
Also, BePress seems to have better indexing in Google Scholar as compared to SSRN. I've often wondered why SSRN is so heavily used given its clunkyness...path dependency?
Posted by: Greg McNeal | May 24, 2011 3:54:12 PM
Thanks for the feedback and comments.
Downloading & Saving PDFs - as Brad points out, your browser determines if a second click is required to download. Naming the downloaded PDF is a bit more complex. Since titles and author names can be *very* long, we needed to find a short naming convention and choose SSRN-idXXXXXX (with XXXXXX being the unique id for the paper). We also discussed the ability to rename the PDF file name. After some discussion, we couldn't find a reasonably priced, simple solution because the download file comes from a separate page (a component of our download integrity system).
CiteReader - the goal of CiteReader is to provide users with a path backwards and forwards through the literature. Our citation system includes a manual verification step to increase its accuracy. Our data shows that we are over 99% accurate for bibliographic references. Unfortunately, this underepresents references from many law scholars. Our recent focus has been on extracting references from within footnotes. This is a very complex process but we think it will greatly benefit the law community. If there is any bibliographic content with errors please let me know. Currently, we only match to other papers in the SSRN eLibrary. We started to match externally and ran into trouble with our partner.
Note to Jennifer - please send me us an email or call the office (877-SSRNhelp) to let us know which version of EndNote you are using. We were testing the "abstract" tag in EndNote for certain version but I'm not sure of the details.
Posted by: Gregg | May 24, 2011 5:46:35 PM
Re: the second click -- here's what typically happens when I click on "One-Click Download" using Firefox: nothing. Absolutely nothing happens. No save window pops up or anything. After a second click on "One-Click Download," the download usually starts, at which point I choose whether to save or open, what to call the file, etc. I don't know if Dan is referring to the same thing but I typically have to click twice to commence the downloading process.
Posted by: Bruce Boyden | May 24, 2011 6:08:25 PM
Note to Dan -- Endnote happens to be the reference-database software supported by my university, but I'd bet there are better choices out there. It's rather clunky, and it is not compatible with Westlaw. (But I'll be calling in the morning to find out if I can get it to import those abstracts!)
Posted by: Jennifer Hendricks | May 24, 2011 10:01:25 PM
As long as we are quibbling about SSRN and Gregg is listening, was there a change to the protocols for signing in? I no longer get the same page for signing in. Also I use a program that saves and applies my passwords, and where it used to be just fine, now I get an ugly "bonnnnk" when I apply it to the SSRN sign in. (MacBook, Safari).
Posted by: Jeff Lipshaw | May 25, 2011 3:42:23 AM
Bruce: I'm not sure of that problem but will ask Customer Support. If you can, pls send us (authorsupport AT ssrn DOT com) your system details, including operating system, browser and version, and paper being downloaded. Thx in advance.
Jeff: pls try deleting your SSRN Cookie (we recently changed our sign-in to a more secure process and the old Cookie may be causing the problem). If not, send us (authorsupport AT ssrn DOT com) a email and include details about the password saver program.
Posted by: Gregg | May 25, 2011 12:51:41 PM
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