Applying the access principle in law: The responsibilities of the legal Scholar

Abstract

This article applies to legal scholarship the ideas developed and argued in John Willinsky's 2006 book: The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship regarding the responsibilities of scholars to make their works widely available through open access mechanisms via the Internet. Willinsky's access principle states that "A commitment to the value and quality of research carries with it a responsibility to extend the circulation of such work as far as possible and ideally to all who are in interested in it and all who might profit by it." For Willinsky, the transformation of scholarly journals from print to online formats means that not only researchers and scholars, but "scholarly societies, publishers, and research libraries have now to ask themselves whether or not they are using this new technology to do as much as they can to advance and improve access to research and scholarship." This article considers the roles and responsibilities under the access principle of legal scholars and the institutions that support the creation and communication of legal scholarship for improving access to legal information The article begins with a presentation of Willinsky's access principle, then introduces the movements for open access to law and to scholarship in other disciplines, addresses questions regarding access to the legal journal literature in the U.S., the U.K., and South Africa, discusses means for enabling access to legal literature through open access journals and scholarship repositories, and describes one law school's experiences in providing open access to its own scholarship. It concludes with suggestions for law schools and law libraries wishing to pursue the implications of the access principle in their institutions.

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