Emerging Social Norms About SSRN

Over the weekend, I socialized with a number of law professors. Naturally, the topic of SSRN came up. I noticed an interesting response to the recent attention to SSRN’s download count statistics. Many of us are so shy about blatant self-promotion that now we’re embarrassed to refer other law professors to our SSRN page, for fear that we will be perceived as trying to jack up our download counts.

As a result, the new SSRN download metrics may have a counterproductive effect. Instead of promoting SSRN to drive up our rankings, we could instead develop a norm that it is bad form to promote it, which would lead to less usage of SSRN. Our self-consciousness about SSRN may be just a short-term blip, but it also could be the beginning of a norm that will degrade SSRN as a major tool for law professors.