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How to use SSRN for research; tips for using SSRN to share papers.

How to Post

SSRN's FAQ includes a section on submitting papers, including detailed step-by-step instructions you can download as a PDF.

We have a much shorter cheat sheet for UW Law:

What Can You Post?

SSRN is set up for sharing scholarly papers. As SSRN's FAQ puts it, "A paper must be part of the worldwide scholarly discourse covered by one or more of SSRN's subject area networks . . .."

Authors may also post other material, such as editorials, once they have at least one scholarly paper.

Papers may be unpublished working papers, published, or accepted for publication but not yet published.

SSRN includes both very recent papers and papers that are decades old. Posting an old paper may give it a new audience; it makes it available to researchers who do not have access to large law libraries or online databases like Lexis and Westlaw.


Do you have the copyright in your paper?

If you've published in a journal, is there a footnote that says © you?

Read your publication agreement. Does it restrict your right to post?

If you haven't yet signed a publication agreement, read it. If it has a term you don't like, see if you can alter it.

Most law reviews allow posting on SSRN and institutional repositories.

Some publishers limit authors to posting the version of the paper that they submitted, before the journal edited it. Some publishers allow authors to post the final version, but only after waiting two years.

If you don't have your publication agreement, check the publisher's website. You might need to contact your editor to get permission.

If it is not clear from the face of your paper that you have the copyright, SSRN staff may ask you to show that you have permission to post.

Publication Agreements

As an author, consider whether you will still have the right to use your article in future works, to distribute it to your students, and to post it on the web (for instance, on SSRN). You can negotiate with the journal if you don't agree with all the provisions in the journal's form contract.

See Benjamin J. Keele, Advising Faculty on Law Journal Publication Agreements (2012), for a discussion of the issues to consider.

A good starting point is the model publication agreement (1998) from the Association of American Law Schools. See also Model Copyright Agreements from Copyright Experiences Wiki. The Copyright Experiences Wiki also has information about individual law journals' policies.

UW Law Authors

UW Law faculty and staff may have public services librarians post papers for them. Contact

If you post your own paper, you can give us the ability to edit your post by making "UW Law Submitter" an assistant:

  1. Click on Revise.
  2. Click on your own name.
  3. Search for a New Co-Author: UW Law Submitter. Select.
  4. Click the radio button for Assistant.

Abstract & Keywords

As an author think about the researchers you want to reach. What words are they likely to search for? When they are skimming dozens of abstracts, what will make yours stand out?

Remember that the default search in SSRN looks for words in the author, title, abstract, and keywords field. Think about synonyms that researchers might use—for example, if your title and abstract use "death penalty," you might add "capital punishment". If there's a significant statute or case that you discuss in the paper but it's not in the abstract, you might add it in the keywords.

For tips on writing effective abstracts, see this box in our guide to Writing for & Publishing in Law Reviews.

JEL Codes

SSRN gives authors the option of including a JEL code. See discussion above.


Authors may select up to twelve eJournals. If they prefer, they can leave it to SSRN to select the eJournals.

The editors of each eJournal will decide whether to distribute the abstract. (It's also possible for editors to distribute an abstract in an eJournal that the author did not select.)

Authors can visit My Papers to see where their papers were distributed. For example, the display below show that the article Exploring Precedent was posted Jan. 21, 2016, and was distributed in the Law & Courts eJournal Feb. 1, the Legal Information & Technology eJournal Jan. 27, and the Legal Writing eJournal Feb. 3. The author had selected the Rhetoric & Public Discourse eJournal (which includes Rhetoric & Law), but the editors did not accept that classification.

screen snip info about Exploring Precedent

Crossing Disciplines

Most papers by law professors and law students will naturally fit within one or more eJournals in the Legal Scholarship Network.

In addition, it's a good idea to look at SSRN's other networks, such as the Management Research Network, the Philosophy Research Network (within the Humanities Network), or the Political Science Network. Legal researchers are likely to find published legal papers in the Current Index to Legal Periodicals (CILP), Lexis, Westlaw, HeinOnline, and Bloomberg Law, but researchers from other disciplines probably don't use those tools. Getting a paper into a relevant SSRN eJournal outside the Legal Scholarship Network could increase its audience.