On 17 May, publishing house Elsevier  announced the acquirement of the Social Science Research Network (SSRN). It is the leading Open Access online repository of scholarly research focusing on social sciences. SSRN is viewed as particularly strong in the fields of economics, finance, accounting, management, and law. Since SSRN is useful for many Maastricht University (UM) researchers, this database is listed in the UM Online Library.

SSRN is first and foremost a site where content is discovered and distributed. Through its working papers and preprints, SSRN is a hub for the early versions of research across many social sciences fields, plus law and some of the humanities as well. It is free to authors for article deposit and free to readers for downloading, and Elsevier has committed that this will not change.

Collaboration opportunities

Beyond this content platform aspect, SSRN also sees itself as a community. Some 300,000 authors have contributed papers to SSRN (an average of approximately two each), and, because of the author pages and other features that distinguish it from a publisher, SSRN sees itself generating a substantial amount of interaction between authors and readers, including the development of meaningful collaboration opportunities. 

What is going to happen to SSRN?

SSRN will continue to enable users to ‘submit for free and download for free’. However, the official announcement gives Elsevier some discretion to enforce its own policies: “The majority of SSRN’s content consists of working papers, the versions of which Elsevier has always been open to sharing, and they’ve done a lot of work to clarify which versions of content can be shared. Both existing and future SSRN content will be largely unaffected and, like Mendeley, we’ll help researchers share post-submission versions of their work responsibly.” (italics supplied.)

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