Thursday, August 16, 2012
I see Dan Filler, independently, picked up the story about the removal of most OUP journals from Westlaw. As it happens, I was corresponding with Rhodri Jackson at OUP about this issue, and was invited to share the following information and explanation:
The central fact of Daniel Sokol's piece, that we have pulled some journals from Westlaw, is correct. This happened as of August 1, 2012, and was announced here:
There are some things we would correct or add to in Daniel's post. Firstly, European Journal of International Law, Reports of Patent, Design and Trade Mark Cases, and Industrial Law Journal remain in Westlaw.
Secondly, many of the journals Daniel lists were never in Westlaw in the first place, and many are not in Westlaw OR Lexis now. I’ve listed the actual titles removed from Westlaw at the bottom of this email. All our titles remain in the LJI (Legal Journals Index).
Thirdly, re the W&L rankings, whilst Daniel is correct that the W&L rankings are based on Westlaw, it is unlikely removal from Westlaw will have any discernible impact on a journal’s ranking. Citations to journals are pulled from Westlaw – so OUP journals would only fall in those rankings if they received a significant proportion of their citations from one of the removed titles. W&L will still pull citations to OUP journals in other publications in Westlaw’s databases.
More generally, it’s never quite as straightforward as us taking a decision that affects all our journals. We have standard policies but the final decision on appropriate licensing is taken on a journal by journal basis.
Hopefully that helps clarify. As to why - we took the decision to take journals out of Westlaw because we have agreed a preferred licensing partnership deal with Lexis Nexis. We continually evaluate which services are the best fit for our titles, and at present Lexis’ global reach and commitment to working with us to disseminate our content (including new journals) stands out. Usage of the journals within Westlaw was very low, and runs somewhat counter to the dire warnings regarding discoverability which Daniel makes.
We’re very keen to ensure that all our journals are discoverable and citable, and we do appreciate that some scholars and practitioners use Westlaw and the JLR. We are working with Lexis to make our journals as visible and easy to find within their database as possible. It’s also worth noting that the primary method of delivery for all our journals is of course through our own site http://www.oxfordjournals.org/subject/law/index.html. We have licensing agreements with multiple providers including Lexis, Westlaw, Hein, and EBSCO, but usage of the journals at all of those venues is dwarfed by that at Oxford.
I hope that helps clarify, but if you have follow up questions we'll be happy to answer
Titles Removed from Westlaw as of 1 August 2012
British Journal of Criminology
Human Rights Law Review
International Journal of Constitutional Law
International Journal of Law and
International Journal of Law, Policy and
International Journal of Refugee Law
Journal of Competition Law & Economics
Journal of Conflict and Security Law
Journal of Environmental Law
Journal of International Criminal Justice
Journal of International Dispute Settlement
Journal of International Economic Law
Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization
Journal of Refugee Studies
Law, Probability and Risk
Medical Law Review
Oxford Journal of Legal Studies
Statute Law Review
This is useful information, and it's certainly right that the effect on any kind of "citation" rankings will be minimal. On the other hand, this move is not without costs for US-based legal scholars, who overwhelmingly do their research on-line and some of whom (I'm one of them) never use Lexis anymore (I don't even know my Lexis password, it's been so many years!). Scholarship that isn't in the Westlaw database is going to be missed by some non-trivial number of researchers. That's unfortunate indeed, and may well give some pause about submitting to these journals. (As a sidenote, the W&L journal rankings are pretty worthless, I'm surprised to learn anyone is looking at them.)
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