December 08, 2005
An Interview with Jean-Gabriel Bankier, Berkeley Electronic Press
Posted by Matt Bodie

In a post last month over at Prawfsblawg, I talked about the different approaches of the two primary legal repositories, SSRN and bepress.  SSRN promotes its download count feature, while bepress provides this information only to the authors.  These different approaches highlight different philosophies about how new technology can be applied to the scholarly enterprise.

To follow up on these issues, I spoke with bepress’s Jean-Gabriel Bankier.  Bankier is the manager of the bepress Legal Repository, as well as ExpressO and LawKit, two legal scholarship services discussed below.  Bankier has twelve years of software marketing, product management and market research experience.  He holds a BA degree in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Masters degree from Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.

(1) Tell us a little about the Berkeley Electronic Press.  When did BEP begin?  Are you affiliated with University of California, Berkeley?  Are you a nonprofit or for-profit organization?

The Berkeley Electronic Press ("bepress") produces tools to improve scholarly communication, by providing innovative and effective means of content production and dissemination.  Bepress has a portfolio of services including peer-reviewed journals, institutional and subject matter repositories, working paper series, and editorial management software. We are a private, for-profit organization founded by UC Berkeley faculty in 1999.  Two of the founders, Bob Cooter and Aaron Edlin, are law professors at Boalt Hall.

(2) What does bepress have to offer for law students and professors?

Bepress has several services to help professors along the legal publishing chain, starting with ExpressO, a manuscript submission management service, in order to facilitate the flow of faculty (and some student) papers from authors to law reviews.  We also created a legal working paper series service to promote scholarly works-in-progress.  A bepress service dedicated to students is LawKit.  This editorial management software saves student law review editors countless hours and administrative nightmares by keeping track of submissions in an online database. 

(3) How does the bepress Legal Repository work?  Can anyone post there?

The bepress Legal Repository serves as the home for legal working papers series.  We automatically convert the papers from Word or WordPerfect to PDF so anyone can submit a paper.   Papers submitted to an institution’s series are vetted by a professor or administrator at that institution.   Those submitted to the bepress Preprint Series (via ExpressO or directly) are vetted by bepress.

(4)  Do you have subject matter journals?

We publish half a dozen peer-reviewed subject specific law journals, but I fear that is not what you mean by “subject matter journals”.  We do not repackage and resell working papers in the form of subject matter journals to law libraries.  Instead readers can browse papers by current index to legal periodicals subject headings.  Taking it a step further, we make it possible for legal scholars to select topics of interest (subject, author, legal term, etc.) and request notification whenever a paper that matches their search criteria is added to the repository.  Legal scholars are embracing this free service.  Thousands have signed up for personalized e-mail notifications since we launched the service in July 2004. 

(5) How do your database and notification services differ from SSRN’s?

SSRN and bepress send out mailers announcing recent working papers by participating institutions.   Bepress also sends out subject matter mailers for the New England Law Library Consortium (NELLCO) and the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology. Unlike SSRN we do not charge libraries for the right to receive subject-matter mailers.

(6) As to those six peer review journals -- do they come out in print as well?  Do they require exclusive publishing rights?  How do they differ from traditional law journals?

The peer-reviewed law journals are currently only available online. Bepress does not seek the copyright on published articles. Authors are largely free to circulate or republish their articles, in print or on institutional repositories, for example. Authors, however, give bepress a perpetual, nonexclusive license to publish the article in question.

Our journals are different from traditional student run law reviews in that they are peer-reviewed by experienced professors and other legal scholars rather than student-reviewed.  They are different from peer-reviewed journals in that the editors are using EdiKit to manage papers.  EdiKit was designed to facilitate and accelerate the manuscript management process creating a better experience for authors, editors and reviewers alike.

(7) I'd like to ask you more about the download issue.  Lots of legal academics seem focused on their SSRN downloads as an indicia of scholarly impact.  If only SSRN downloads are publicly available, then bepress downloads don't "count" toward scholarly impact.  Are you worried that authors are going to direct readers to SSRN and away from bepress?

Authors with papers in the bepress Legal Repository are emailed download statistics every month.  We have seen that papers posted to SSRN and the bepress Legal Repository have comparable downloads-per-posted-days rates.  This isn’t an issue of bepress hiding figures.  Rather, we are concerned that popularity and scholarly value not be conflated.  SSRN feels differently, and this is reflected in their approach.  It’s an honest difference of opinion.  I think at the end of the day, authors want their research to be read by those who would learn and benefit from it.  This means creating multiple paths of discovery to their work, via SSRN, bepress, law reviews, institutional repositories, and other venues.

(8) What is your relationship with NELLCO?  Do you have similar relationships with other repositories?

The New England Law Library Consortium (NELLCO) licenses our repository software to offer law working paper series to its members.  While they are the only group using our software to host a subject-matter repository today, there are several dozens universities that have bepress-hosted institutional repositories.

(9) Could you explain what ExpressO is, for readers who may not be familiar with it? How is ExpressO affiliated with the Press?  Are you the only company doing electronic delivery to law reviews?

Bepress created ExpressO to facilitate the delivery of papers from authors to law reviews.  Currently, 86 law schools have institutional ExpressO accounts for their faculty but a school account is not required to use the service.  We serve 500 law reviews including all of the top 100.  We deliver manuscripts electronically and make submissions available to respective editors on a secure dedicated Web site.  We print and mail manuscripts to some 35 top-tier law reviews that prefer to receive submissions from ExpressO in that manner, and also have special arrangements with select top-tier law reviews that accept electronic deliveries only through ExpressO. We track when law reviews are full and no longer considering submissions so that authors do not waste their time and money submitting to law reviews that are effectively closed for the season.   The system even provides authors with tools to make an expedite request or withdraw their submission.

SSRN, Technology | Bookmark

TrackBacks (0)

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Links to weblogs that reference An Interview with Jean-Gabriel Bankier, Berkeley Electronic Press:

Recent Comments
Popular Threads
Search The Glom
The Glom on Twitter
Archives by Topic
Archives by Date
January 2019
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    
Miscellaneous Links