A Workshop on Open Scientific Publishing and Communication on Law and ICT was held 10 October 2012 in Ithaca, New York, immediately following LVI 2012: The Law via the Internet Conference, held 7-9 October 2012, at the Legal Information Institute (LII), Cornell Law School, Ithaca, New York, USA. The workshop had the informal title of “Steve the Librarian.” Tom Bruce of the LII sends the following report on the workshop. Thanks to Tom for allowing me to repost his report:
Since I ended up acting as the informal “chair” of the meeting, I suppose I should be the one to fill everyone in. It was, in fact, a meeting of 8 or 10 people around a breakfast table at the Holiday Inn, and not a workshop in any ordinary sense. But it was the latest event in a chain of discussions around this subject that began at LVI in Florence, and continued through the LVI meetings in Durban and Hong Kong, sometimes in conference sessions, sometimes in the FALM business meetings, and sometimes in airport lounges. It is fair to say that this is a recurring topic and an important one.
We outlined three major needs in the field.
One (which I’ve pushed to the point of being a broken record on the subject) is the need for low-threshold, internal communication among the various subdisciplines that touch open access to law. We’ve taken on some of that in VoxPopulii, first under your capable leadership and now with Stephanie Davidson and Christine Kirchberger at the helm. It’s vitally necessary that legal informatics researchers learn about the needs of publishers, publishers about librarians, librarians about informatics, and social scientists about all of them (not a complete census but you see what I mean) and that the resulting literature be accessible to non-specialists in the field that is talking about itself. There is room for much more than VoxPopuLii here.
A second is for a publishing venue for people who are working on open access to legal information as researchers in various fields, particularly younger scholars. If you can agree for a moment that we might describe their fields as, for the most part, “law and…” fields, then the journals they now have available to them are all in the fields that are on the other side of the three dots. This has a distorting effect. The availability of very good open-journal software for electronic publication makes good alternatives possible. There is general agreement that because there are so many fields bordering what we all do there is a potentially difficult problem of defining boundaries for such a journal. Initial forays will thus focus pretty tightly on open access to law. Even that is potentially tricky, given that government information of many kinds might be eligible and useful, so firm editorial leadership is called for.
A third is for a comprehensive archive and index to existing work in the field, to be maintained as new stuff is added. One might describe its boundaries as being “all the stuff Rob Richards posts about” , with substantial work on mapping it having been done by you both in formal bibliographies and in blog posts and Twitter. We think there is the possibility of working either with an existing apparatus such as the physics arXiv, or with a purpose-built DSpace installation or some other repository.
Participants in the discussion included Pompeu Casanovas, Graham Greenleaf, Enrico Francesconi, Ginevra Peruginelli, James Lambert, John Heywood, Cicely Wilson, John Joergensen, Amy Taylor, and others whose names I apologize for not retrieving from my faulty memory.
Various individuals have been tasked with pursuing initial steps toward these objectives with the aim of having all or part in place by the time of the next LVI conference (tentatively believed to be in September 2013). We’ll post news as things become concrete.