by Malikah Hall
This Spring, my colleague Aaron Retteen and I applied for our first research grant. We are working on a project, the abstract of which can be found here, on utilizing Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) in legal scholarship. Our hope is to include law scholars in the digital landscape of scholarly communications regarding impact and usage metrics, help draft tenure and promotion narratives, allow scholars to more easily keep track of their scholarship, and create new projects for law library scholarly communications assistance (amongst other uses). We truly believe that future best-practices in the publication lifecycle of legal scholarship will include the use of DOIs, and we intend to bring to the community a framework for implementation that anyone involved in legal scholarship publishing can pick up and use. During our preemption check, we found very little scholarship on this issue, so we decided it would be a great fit for a particular research grant.
We did our homework. We contacted previous winners to get advice on creating the proposal. We contacted our university sponsored research services office in order to better understand the grant acceptance, submission, and application policies associated with our university. We sought the assistance of our law review faculty advisors and several faculty members to obtain university buy-in. We contacted possible research assistants to begin work immediately upon receiving grant funding. We anticipated a yes – what we got was a no.
We were in shock for the first few hours after we received the “no.” It took a few days to dust off our warring emotions and organize the many questions running through our brains – Do we continue the project without funding? Do we seek other funding opportunities? Do we just scrap the project altogether? How do we move forward? Do we move forward at all?
After a few days of thinking things through, we decided to move forward now with the momentum that is still percolating in our building and our brains. We still believe the use of DOIs will be integral in the next generation of legal scholarship. As we are currently without funding, we have located other potential funding agencies and are beginning the proposal submission process for these opportunities. However, we will continue with or without funding. The timeline may need adjustment because without funding we must conduct the research on our own, but that is not a deterrent.
Additional advice from some professional contacts inspired us to create our digital footprint now to locate potential contributors and collaborators and provide an opportunity for others to view our dedication to this project. At the pace of our submitted timeline from our grant application, we have added our abstract to SSRN. Any updates to this project that will be reduced to writing will be updated at the same SSRN link. In addition to this post, Aaron will write a blog post on one of the more technical aspects of using DOIs. Moreover, a tweet from Carl Malamud, noted archivist and open source activist, encouraged us that we are on the right track.
The next step is to begin our environmental scan to find which (if any) law reviews are actively adding DOIs to their content. We know there are several publishers who add them, but we are not currently aware of law reviews adding them as part of their publication process. We hope to create an anecdotal example of this process by using Texas A&M University School of Law’s two law reviews as a sample of how this could be done as a function of a partnership with the law library. However, if other law reviews are currently doing so, we would like to find more information on best practices for implementation. So, if you are interested in learning more about this subject, have any advice, or would like to participate in our upcoming survey, feel free to follow up with either Aaron or myself. We’d love to hear from you.
And wish us luck – and possible funding.