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Open Access | Journal Rankings | Marketing Your JournalCopyright and Licensing

Open Access

What is open access?

Open access scholarship is published without any restrictions or barriers to the content.

How do I make my journal or content open access?

You can make your content open access simply by putting it online so that it can be accessed without a subscription or access to a particular index or database. However, you should consider some important elements, like ensuring your content is stored (or also stored) in a stable repository where it can be accessed over a long period of time and that the content is appropriately licensed so that authors and readers understand how the work can be accessed and reused.

Writing an open access statement can also be useful in making your journal’s policy known and can even be a great marketing tool to show authors your commitment to making their scholarship available and impactful.

Sample Open Access Policy Statement

As of 2018 the Law Review is an open access journal, which means that content published from 2018 onward is free to access without charge to the user or their institution. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles in this journal without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author. Authors retain their copyright and agree to license their articles with a Creative Commons “Attribution” License (CC-BY) unless otherwise noted on the article landing page. You can read more about Creative Commons licenses at

Open access publishing helps LAW REVIEW to achieve our mission of broad dissemination of information about legal remedies for human rights violations promote human rights around the world. The articles we publish are searchable and freely accessible on the web, which means that our legal scholarship can be easily found and studied by academics and lawyers both in the United States and abroad. The visibility and use that open access fosters increases the impact and visibility of each author’s work and the overall reach of our valuable and important resource.

Where can I learn more about Open Access?

Check out the SPARC OA Fact Sheet

Find further reading about the impact of open access on publishing for law journals

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Journal Rankings

In addition to published rankings – notably the annual US News list – law reviews and journals are ranked by a few different measures (Impact Factor, the Washington & Law Combined Score, Google Scholar Metrics). Understanding how these measures are calculated can help you position your journal to receive the best possible ranking and appeal to authors during their submissions process.

Impact Factor

The impact factor (IF) or journal impact factor (JIF) of an academic journal is a measure reflecting the yearly average number of citations to recent articles published in that journal. It is frequently used as a proxy for the relative importance of a journal within its field; A scholar considering publishing in two journals with similar subject matter and composition of published materials (eg. articles, notes, book reviews) may use impact factor to decide where to submit. The logic of impact factor suggests that the journal with a greater IF produces better quality and widely read articles more likely to be cited than the lower.

For law reviews, Impact Factor represents the median value of eight segments representing cumulative impact factor over eight years. The number of citations for each segment (segment 1 being the first year, 2 the first and second years, 3, years 1-3, and so on) is divided by the number of articles published over the same period. The median of these eight values is recorded as the journal’s IF, a practice that is meant to counteract any extremes or outliers.

If that seemed overly complicated to you, it did to me too. For most other disciplines, impact factor is calculated by adding together the total number of a journal’s article citations for the last two years and dividing that number by the combined number of articles published in the journal during that same time. For example:

Journal Impact Factor equation

Impact Factor, like all metrics, has some fallibilities and implicit biases. IF rankings are biased against journals that publish a larger number of shorter articles, which inflate the denominator in the IF equation, without generating a large number of citations. Tables of contents are not evaluated closely by hand, and so items like forwards, letters, and corrigenda are also counted as articles. No system or algorithm exists to completely collate and calculate impact factor. Washington & Law collect their citing article metrics exclusively from Westlaw and their article quantity data primarily from the Index to Legal Periodicals (and to a lesser extent from HeinOnline, Westlaw, and Lexis), meaning that journals depositing and reporting robustly to these databases will be privileged over others.

Impact Factor is an imprecise measure but is an accepted standard by which authors evaluate the desirability of one publishing venue over another. To preserve impact factor, depositing well-described content to Westlaw and the other databases above will ensure that accurate data is available to evaluators.

Find further reading about ranking, impact, and citation for law journals

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Marketing Your Journal

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a practice meant to increase relevant traffic to a website through organic search. Since many of us start of research by conducting a Google search, practicing SEO makes it easier for people to find you through search engines. There are quite a lot of tips and tricks around the web to increase SEO on your website. I’ve found some useful and easy to implement steps you can start with are:

  • Remove things that make your site slow: If your site is loading slowly, people are bailing out before the page resolves, or getting frustrated and not coming back. Getting your page load to work more speedily might be as easy as removing a high resolution image, embedded links and multimedia content that are slow to load, or unnecessary animations or widgets.
  • Add working inlinks and outlinks: Having other sites link to your journal is one way to show search engine algorithms that your site is a working and worthwhile resource, so getting coverage and links from other publications, blogs, and new sites aren’t just good for capturing immediate readership. Adding stable, resolving links out to other sites also shows search engine algorithms that your site is a real (run by humans) and useful part of the web ecosystem. A great place to add links, if your site doesn’t have a blog, for instance, can be to include DOIs or links to online publications in bibliographies on article pages.
  • Write for humans, remember machines: Your site is not a piece of content marketing, it’s scholarship. Although keywords and keyword strings do help search engines to find and filter your content, ultimately your site content should use the language to communicate your mission and the information people need to know about your journal’s news and activities. Don’t feel pressured to use embedded keywords or an overly prescriptive : In Page Titles, header tags, metadata tags.
  • Use metadata fields: Add keyword metadata tags to your site and use other metadata fields, such as keywords and descriptions for images. While you may not want to add links and language all over your site, disrupting the content, metadata is a powerful and unobtrusive way to optimize search engine crawling of your site.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is part of having any active online business, publication, or organization online. It’s an inexpensive or free way to share information across the internet and to directly interact with your potential readers and authors. Social media marketing and account maintenance can also be time consuming. How can you strategize your social media use to get the most out of the effort you can devote to this part of your publishing?

First, select a limited number of social media accounts, where you are willing to spend the time creating content and engaging with followers. Choose those environments based on where your community is. If there is an active facebook group in your discipline, a facebook group or page seems like a great way to capitalize on an already gathering and active community. It isn’t necessary to have a Tumblr, a twitter account, and an instagram if those aren’t the social media spaces where people are discussing and sharing scholarship like yours.

What kinds of things should you share on your accounts?

  • Announce: New issues, new articles, CFPs, symposia and other events held by the journal/publication
  • Promote: Editors attending or presenting at conferences, when articles have been picked up by news outlets or other accounts
  • Share: News and publications within your field. Make your social media feeds valuable to followers. If your followers get great information on breaking news and interesting new research, they’re more likely to be paying attention when you share information on your own calls for submissions or announce a new issue.

Social media takes time to engage with and curate. So how can you make the process less onerous?

  • Set your twitter retweet hashtags. This can also help to make you visible to a wider community.
  • Ask your authors to tweet/share about their work using those and your own journal’s hashtags. Retweet your authors.
  • Use social media management tools (Post PlannerHootsuite) to prepare social media posts in advance when you have the time or you’re feeling creative.
  • Create a social media/outreach role on your editorial staff

Your publication as a marketing tool

Keep your website up to date! I cannot stress this enough: information does not age well on the internet. If you’ve arrived at a site that has information from two years ago on its public pages, you’re likely to assume that group or at least their website is defunct. Readers will quickly become frustrated by email contacts that do not work, by poor functionality or dead links on sites that aren’t regularly audited, or a lack of regularly posted content. Importantly, an author comes to your site and they can’t find up to date information about when, how, and where to submit, they’re going to move on.

Social media is only useful as a broadcast tool if there are people on the receiving end of your transmissions. Your readers are a ready-built community of followers, so use your publication site as a place to advertise your social media accounts. If you spend time curating a twitter or facebook feed that with news and publications that are relevant to your community, sharing that on your website may be a way to attract followers.

Having an active blog is a great way to provide current content to feature on your marketing and media channels. It will encourage people to continue returning to your site and talking about and sharing your publication regularly, even if you are only publishing one or two issues per year. But a blog is only as useful as it is active and current. A blog with no recent posts contributes to a site looking neglected and out of date, so it’s only a good investment if you have the personpower and the time to write or commission content on a regular schedule.

Your website can be another advertising space – if you have appealing statistics and facts about your journal that you can share this is the space for it. Are you indexed in major databases? Can you collect information about citations? Do you have a particularly diverse pool of authors or a high rejection rate showing the diversity and competitiveness of your submissions pool? Use your website to present a compelling story to authors right where they make their submissions to your journal.

Additional Resources:

Download the “1-Page Marketing Plan”

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Copyright and Licensing

Creative Commons Licensing

What is a Creative Commons (CC) License?

A Creative Commons License is a statement of the terms under which a piece of intellectual property under copyright can be reused. CC licenses are an international standard that provides clear terms under which content, such as a journal article, can be reused, reworked, or republished, and what kind of credit, or attribution, is necessary.

A journal may set a publication-level license that is applied to all articles, or the journal may allow authors to select an individual license.

What are the different kinds of licenses my journal could use?

Different Creative Commons licenses allow for and restrict different kinds of reuse. Here are the six main forms of CC license commonly used to publish journal articles:

1. Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY):

The “Attribution” license allows others to republish, reprint, and reuse an article, including remixing and build upon the content, as long as the original author and source is credited. The license even allows reuse of the work for commercial purposes, such as reprinting in a for-profit publication. This license is the most accommodating and permissive, but this also means that it is recommended for the widest possible dissemination of a work.

2. Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND):

A “No Derivatives” license lets other use the work for any purpose, include commercial reuse, but it cannot be adapted or remixed. Credit must be given to the original source and author. A CC-BY-ND preserves the contextual integrity of any work, by ensuring that it cannot be excerpted or reproduced in part within a derivative work, but it does mean that, especially given the length of legal research articles, your journal’s works may not be frequently reused and widely disseminated.

3. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC-BY-NC): 

A “NonCommercial” license allows others to reuse the work, including remixing and adapting it, but prohibits reuse in commercial contexts and publications. They must attribute the work to its original source. A non-commercial license may be a good option if your journal wants to retain rights to charge fees for reuse and republication, or if you feel your authors would be concerned about commercial reuse of their work.

4. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND):

A “NonCommerical-No Derivatives” license only allows use of a work in its original, unadapted form for non-commercial purposes. The work must be attributed to the original source.

If you’re not sure which license to select or don’t understand the terms of the one that is currently assigned to your journal, please feel free to get in touch.

Why would my journal want to use a CC License?

For journals seeking to increase the reach and impact of their scholarship, Creative Commons licenses encourage the sharing and reuse of work. Readers who are informed outright of the ways in which they can republish and use an article are more likely to cite it, reprint it, and repurpose it in educational contexts. This increased exposure leads to additional readership and citation. And as long as you have selected an “Attribution” license (CC-BY), your journal and its authors will still receive credit and recognition for the work you do.

Clearly articulated licenses and terms will also help journal editors to field fewer reuse and republication requests.

How do I implement a Creative Commons License?

You can apply a Creative Commons license simply by including a statement of copyright and listing the license on your journal site and on the article page where the text is available. It is also considered best practice to include the CC license in the footer of the article, and to provide a link to the webpage containing terms for the license you’ve selected. You can also download and display CC License Buttons on your webpages and article PDFs and prints.

Including your license in the first page footer of the article means that out of the context of your journal website people will still be able to know how the article is licensed. For instance, if the article PDF is downloaded through an index like Hein or WestLaw, the reader will still understand the terms under which the content can be reused and who should be contacted about forms of reuse that require permission by the copyright holder.

Here is are a couple of examples of the language Columbia University Libraries partner journals use in their article footers:

© 2019 Author A. Sample. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License provided the original author and source are credited. For the complete terms of the license please see:

© 2019 Generic Writer. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, which permits not for profit distribution and reproduction of this article (such as educational classroom and personal uses), provided the original author and source are credited. The license does not allow alterations of the underlying work beyond that permitted by fair use without additional permission from the Author.

For more information on Copyright and Licensing:

Visit the Workshop on Author Rights and Relationships.

Read additional resources on copyright from Columbia Copyright Advisory Services.

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