Making Your Research Go Viral

In a paper soon to be published in the American Economic Review, economists Scott Stern and Jeffrey Furman studied biology scholarship and found that making research materials easily available to others has a viral effect. When the research materials were placed in a Biological Resource Center easily accessible to other researchers, “the post-deposit citation boost is estimated to be between 57 percent and 135 percent.”

Would making legal research easily available to other researchers have the same viral effect on legal scholarship? It just might—ask Professor Brandon Garrett. With the help of the law library, Professor Garrett has made much of his research accessible online, including the research for his book Convicting the Innocent, the set of corporate prosecution agreements he used for a 2007 article “Structural Reform Prosecution,” and the corporate plea agreements used for his 2011 article “Globalized Corporate Prosecution.”

We do not know the exact effect of making his research publicly available, but the pages for these materials have been accessed more than 16,000 times. Professor Garrett’s research has certainly received national attention. Convicting the Innocent has been featured in the New York Times (and here and here), cited by Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor in a recent dissent on eyewitness testimony, and used by the New Jersey Supreme Court to support its sweeping changes in how eyewitness testimony will be treated in New Jersey courts. “Structural Reform Prosecution” has been cited over fifty times in law reviews and other secondary sources.

If you would like to think about making your research similarly publicly available, just contact Jon Ashley in the law library. He and Professor Garrett are currently working on making the data sets even more accessible by adding faceted and full-text search functions.

– Ben Doherty 

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Arthur J. Morris Law Library

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