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.
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.
From the announcement sent this morning by email:
We have been working on extracting references from all SSRN papers for 5 years as part of the CiteReader™ project that SSRN has undertaken with our development firm, ITX Corp. We have created a system to extract references and footnotes from PDF files on SSRN and to have that extracted data proofread by human beings. While this project is not yet complete, we are now announcing the release of over 6.7 million references extracted from the reference sections of over 182,000 papers on the SSRN site as well as over 4.2 million citations that we have linked to SSRN papers.
– The references from each SSRN paper (where we have been able to extract them) can be found on the REFERENCES tab on the public abstract page for each paper.
– 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.