SSRN - the Social Science Research Network - has always been a good source for researchers to find either specific articles or to search for articles about a particular topic. One of the strengths of SSRN has been its willingness to be electronically crawled by the search engines. That's why you can find an article on SSRN through a Google, Bing, or Yahoo search.
On Friday morning SSRN made a quantum leap forward in providing an enhanced platform for legal research. The SSRN CiteReader program has now become available. The CiteReader program allows researchers to mine the footnotes associated with any posted article - even articles posted in PDF. The majority of the references and citations are coming from articles posted on the LSN - the Legal Scholarship Network. LSN is the database where most articles, whether in progress or accepted for publication, are posted before they are published in student edited law journals. From the announcement (sent this morning by email):
– The citations we have matched to each SSRN paper are available on the CITATIONS tab on the public abstract page for the paper.
– These reference links provide an excellent way for any reader to go back in the literature in any area, and the citation links provide an excellent way to go forward in the literature.
Most researchers consult law review articles for two reasons: the analysis and the footnotes. A law review article is a powerful secondary source to find primary law and other relevant secondary sources. This new feature is a real game changer for SSRN.