Santa Clara Law Digital Commons Hits Major Milestone

May 8, 2014 at 1:17 pm

On May 8, 2014 the Santa Clara Law Digital Commons hit 1 million downloads.  The Santa Clara Law Digital Commons in a free digital archive that contains the academic “output” of the law school.  It contains faculty articles (including working drafts and empirical legal research projects), students journals, student scholarship, archival materials, and other documents used to support faculty research.” “It is an exciting time for open-access legal scholarship at Santa Clara Law,” says David Holt, associate librarian at Santa Clara Law and the administrator of the archive. “The archive has only been online for only two years and yet has already reached this impressive milestone. By making these materials available to the public, we are helping to promote the value of legal scholarship produced at Santa Clara Law, and we hope that it will further widen its academic impact and role in forming public policy.”

The Santa Clara Law Digital Commons is a project started by the Heafey Law Library to advance the goal of open-access academic publishing.  In 2009,  law librarians from across the United States   met at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University to discuss an open-access publishing model for legal scholarship (https://cyber.law.harvard.edu/publications/durhamstatement). This meeting eventually created the Durham Statement , which advocates for law schools to commit to electronic versions of their scholarship in stable, open, digital formats. Santa Clara Law has committed to the values embodied in the Durham Statement by making all faculty scholarship and student journals available on Digital Commons to anyone on the Internet.

Presently, the three student journals published by Santa Clara Law (the Santa Clara Law Review, Santa Clara High Technology Law Journal, and the Santa Clara Journal of International Law) are available for free on Digital Commons from their first issue onward. Each of these journals receives tens of thousands of downloads each month. For example, the Santa Clara Law Review currently has a rate of 25,000 downloads per month. “We hope that by moving to an open-access publishing model, these journals will be accessible to those outside of the legal academe and will further encourage interdisciplinary collaboration,” says Holt. “We are also confident that improved accessibility to these materials will increase citation rates and thus the overall rankings for our three journals.”

The archive currently contains 4,726 unique digital items and has a download rate of 80,000 downloads per month from 115 countries around the world. More than 30 percent  of these downloads come from outside the United States and include thousands of downloads each month from the UK, Canada, India, Australia, and Germany.