Open Source Access to Scholarly Research

Legal Publishers and others are making it tough for law libraries to maintain many of their collections. For example, Since 1996 Thomson Reuters (West) has dramatically raised the prices of its print titles, both for new sets and, more significantly, for upkeep. Svengalis in his 2016 Legal Information Buyer’s Guide and Reference Manual, tracks 24 popular Thomson Reuter titles and provides a supplementation upkeep cost over a 21 year period, 1995-2015. The average price increase over the 21-year period was 779%. Svengalis also track 20 selective Lexis titles, which increased 299% over the same period. By comparison, the consumer price index rose only 58% during the same time.

With such dramatic increases by commercial publishers, open-source advocates are finding ways to combat the high cost of publications. Wikipedia defines open source access as “. . . online research outputs that are free of all restrictions on access . . . and free of many restrictions on use . . .” Two such entities include the Open Access Button and Unpaywall.

open access buttonBoth are open-source, nonprofit, and dedicated to improving free access to scholarly research. Both scour thousands of institutional repositories (like our ScHOLAR), preprint servers (i.e., SSRN), and other websites to see if an open-access copy of the article is available.

The Open Access Button (OAB) is a browser bookmarklet that is invoked when users hit articles behind a subscription-based site. The OAB will search open access sites for the piece. Both OAB and Unpaywall work similarly.

unpaywallHowever, unlike OAB, Unpaywall uses extensions, which are currently available for Chrome and Firefox. When an Unpaywall user lands on the preview page of a research article and will see either a green unlocked tab or a grey locked tab.  If the tab is green, he or she can click on that tab to view the PDF. See graphic below.

unpaywall in article

March 2017 Law Faculty Publications & News

Throughout March 2017, the Law Library received alerts for full-time TTU Law Faculty publications and news. Below is the compilation of daily alerts for March 1, 2017 to March 31, 2017.


1. GERRY W. BEYER, 13, 15 WEST’S TEX. FORMS, REAL PROPERTY (2d ed. 2017).

2. Richard Murphy, Administrative Law and Practice, 2 ADMIN. L. & PRAC. § 5:18 (3d ed.). (Feb. 2017 Update).


  1. Sally McDonald Henry, Chapter 11 Zombies, 50 Ind. L. Rev. 579 (2017).


  1. Prof. Beyer’s article, When You Pass On, Don’t Leave the Passwords Behind: Planning for Digital Assets, was cited in the following article: Natalie M. Banta, Property Interests in Digital Assets: The Rise of Digital Feudalism, 38 Cardozo L. Rev. 1099 (2017).
  1. Prof. Beyer’s blog, Murderer’s Family Faces Court Battle Over Inheritance, was cited in the following article: Kelsey I. Cox, The Need for Reform: A Comprehensive Legislative Analysis of the Illinois “Slayer Statute”, 11 Charleston L. Rev. 119 (2017).
  1. Prof. Christopher’s article, Whack-A-Mole: Why Prosecuting Digital Currency Exchanges Won’t Stop Online Money Laundering, was cited in the following article: Lawrence J. Trautman and Alvin C. Harrell, Bitcoin Versus Regulated Payment Systems: What Gives?, 38 Cardozo L. Rev. 1041 (2017).
  1. Prof. Camp’s article, The Mysteries of Erroneous Refunds, was cited in the following article: Allen D. Madison, The Legal Consequences of Noncompliance with Federal Tax Laws, 70 Tax Law. 367 (2016).
  1. Prof. Camp’s article, The Play’s the Thing: A Theory of Taxing Virtual Worlds, was cited in the following article: Adam B. Thimmesch, Transacting in Data: Tax, Privacy, and the New Economy, 94 Denv. L. Rev. 145 (2017).
  1. Prof. Camp’s article, Form over Substance in the Fifth Circuit was cited in the following article: Bret Wells, The Foreign Tax Credit War, 2016 B.Y.U. L. Rev. 1895 (2016).
  1. Prof. Murphy’s article, The Limits of Legislative Control Over the “Hard-Look”, was cited in the following article: D.A. Candeub, Tyranny and Administrative Law, 59 Ariz. L. Rev. 49 (2017).
  1. Prof. Murphy’s update on the Administrative Law & Practice treatise was cited in the following article: Sally Brown Richardson, Privacy and Community Property, 95 N.C. L. Rev. 729 (2017).
  1. Prof. Benham’s essay, Emerging Issues in Texas Dismissal Practice: Pleading Standards and Important Miscellany, was cited in the following comment: George Hayek, TRCP 91a: Resolving the Confusion, 54 Hous. L. Rev. 775 (2017).


  1. Prof. Camp’s article, ‘Loving’ Return Preparer Regulation, was quoted in: Jay A. Soled & Kathleen DeLaney Thomas, Regulating Tax Return Preparation, 58 B.C.L. Rev. 151, 204 (2017).
  1. Prof. Murphy’s & Charles H. Koch Jr. 2016 treatise update of 4 Admin. L. & Prac. § 13:14 (3d ed.), was quoted in: John Kendrick, (Un)limiting Administrative Review: Wind River, Section 2401(a), and the Right to Challenge Federal Agencies, 103 Va. L. Rev. 157, 210 (2017).
  1. Prof. Murphy’s article, Judicial Deference, Agency Commitment, and Force of Law, was quoted in: Aditya Bamzai, The Origins of Judicial Deference to Executive Interpretation, 126 Yale L.J. 908 (2017).
  1. Prof. Humphrey’s article, ‘‘Let’s Talk About Sex”: Legislating and Educating on the Affirmative Consent Standard, was quoted in the following: Eleanor Christie Gourley, Getting to Yes-Means-Yes: Re-Thinking Responses to Rape and Rape Culture on College Campuses, 52 Wash. U.J.L. & Pol’y 195, 207 (2016).
  1. Prof. Camp’s articles, Tax Administration as Inquisitorial Process and the Partial Paradigm Shift in the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 and The Failure of Adversarial Process in the Administrative State, were quoted in the following article: Pippa Browde, A Reflection on Tax Collecting: Opening A Can of Worms to Clean Up A Collection Due Process Jurisdictional Mess, 65 Drake L. Rev. 51 (2017).
  1. Prof. Beyer’s article, Digital Wills: Has the Time Come for Wills to Join the Digital Revolution?, was quoted in the following article: Alberto B. Lopez, Posthumous Privacy, Decedent Intent, and Post-Mortem Access to Digital Assets, 24 GEO. MASON L. REV. 183 (2016).


  1. On March 3, 2017 Prof. Beyer was a speaker at the 2017 Estate Planning & Community Property Law Journal Seminar held at the Texas Tech University School of Law. His topic and accompanying article were entitled Case Law Update.
  1. As an editor, Prof. Beyer published a new edition of Keeping Current—Probate in the Probate and Property Journal- it offers a look at selected recent cases, rulings and regulations, literature, and legislation.
  1. On March 8, 2017, Prof. Beyer was a speaker at the 2017 County Court Assistants Training Conference sponsored by the Texas Association of Counties in Lubbock. Prof. Beyer’s presentation was an overview of probate and estate administration under Texas law.
  1. On March 12, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal published an article about Prof. Sutton who is producing her first documentary “The Court Martial of the Apache Kid.”
  1. On March 20, 2017, Prof. Loewy was interviewed by FOX34 News concerning Judge Gorsuch confirmation hearing. The article can be found here.
  1. On March 22, 2017, Prof. Beyer presented a continuing education program for the Red River Valley Estate Planning Council in Fargo, North Dakota. His presentations and accompanying articles were entitled Cyber Estate Planning and Administration and Avoiding the Estate Planning “Blue Screen of Death” With Competent and Ethical Practices.
  1. On March 25, 2017, Prof. Beyer was a speaker at the 2017 Spring Management Workshop conducted by the Equipment Marketing and Distribution Association in Savannah, Georgia. Prof. Beyer’s presentation was entitled Estate Planning Basics: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
  1. On March 31, 2017, Prof. Beyer was a guest speaker for approximately 300 attendees at a symposium sponsored by the Southwest Parkinson Society entitled After the Diagnosis, Now What? His presentation was entitled After the Diagnosis: Getting Your House in Order.
  1. On March 31, 2017, Prof. Tracy Pearl presented her paper Fast & Furious: The Misregulation of Driverless Cars, which was specially selected for discussion at the 2017 We Robot Conference at Yale Law School in New Haven, Connecticut.
  1. On March 31, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal published a debate between Prof. Loewy and Charles Moster on whether employer contributions to Social Security should be abolished. The article can be found here.
  1. The Office of the Vice President for Research at Texas Tech recently announced that Prof. Beyer was named the 2017 Outstanding Researcher from the School of Law.

Gaming the Article Title

Article titles are important because researchers often use keyword searching in the title field to find articles that are highly relevant to their research.

421975855_1280x720Not only is a title important for discoverability, it’s also important to catch the attention of a potential reader and up article views and downloads for impact purposes.

Brian Leiter over at the Law Professor Blogs Network recently highlighted a story illustrating how to game the article title to increase downloads.

I have an article with the (admittedly extremely boring) title “Rethinking Assignor Estoppel” coming out in the Houston Law Review. It has been on SSRN for nine months. I have posted about it twice on Facebook and Twitter, and it has shown up in all the SSRN journals. In that nine months it has garnered 982 views and 172 SSRN downloads.

Late Friday afternoon, prompted by some friends teasing me for the boring headline, I posted the exact same article, with the exact same abstract, but with a new, click-baity title: “Inventor Sued for Infringing His Own Patent. You Won’t Believe What Happened Next.” I did this in part as a joke, and in part as an unscientific test to see how susceptible law professors were to clickbait.

The answer is, quite susceptible indeed. In less than two hours on a Friday night the number of views for this “new” article surpassed the old one. In 26 hours, by late Saturday, more people had downloaded the new article than the old one, even though before downloading you are exposed to the same old boring abstract. And by the end of the weekend, the article had been viewed nearly six times as often as the original and downloaded three times as often as the original.

The article will soon appear in the Houston Law Review under its old, boring title. But it sure looks like titles matter.

Authors would do well to keep this in mind when naming an article. This, coupled with a long, jargon-filled abstract, may just be the key to article impact success.

Easy New Way to Locate Government Documents

The U.S. Publishing Office has a new way to locate government documents. They have created the “Catalog of U.S. Government Publications” or CGP for short.  While the name may not be exciting, the search engine is pretty neat.

This search engine will let the user search for a government publication by name, author, subject, keyword, or government document number.  Use this search engine to locate a government document published anytime from the 1800’s to present day.


Once you find a document, the record will let you know where the document is located.  If there is a link to the electronic copy, you can access the document immediately.


If the document is only available in paper or you need to see a paper copy, you can search to see where the closest Federal Depository Library is that owns the document. Once you know where the document is located you can go and view the document.


This is a great site for anyone who needs to locate a government document.  Many of the documents published today have electronic versions so these items are just a click away!

Just in case you didn’t realize, Texas Tech University is a regional depository library, which means they own everything!  Well….they own an extensive collection of government documents.  This is great news, since it’s highly likely that any government document you are looking for will be available online, in the Law Library, or at the Main University Library.

Good luck hunting for government documents!  Remember, if you need help finding a document you can always contact a Law Librarian for help.


Open Access Week Oct. 24-30


This year’s Open Access Week theme of “Open in Action” is all about taking concrete steps to open up research and scholarship and encouraging others to do the same.

One way to open up research and scholarship is through open educational resources (OER). The Hewlitt Foundation defines Open Educational Resources as “teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or are released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and repurposing by others. OER include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.”

To truly be open, the OER resources should be free and have the 5 R’s of reuse rights:

  • Retain
  • Reuse
  • Revise
  • Remix
  • Redistribute

If you are interested in making your educational resources open, Creative Commons is a wonderful way to release course content under an open intellectual property license that allows for the 5 R’s of reuse rights.

The benefits of open educational resources cannot be overstated. To show OER impact, one must look no further than the cost of textbooks:

  • Since 2002, college textbook costs have increased 82% (GAO)
  • 2 in 3 students say they decided against buying a textbook because the cost is too high (Student PIRGs)
  • 1 in 3 students say at some point they earned a poor grade because they could not afford to buy the textbook (Student Survey)
  • 1 in 2 students say they have at some point taken fewer courses due to the cost of textbooks.

OER would make textbooks free to students. And a multi-institutional study in the Journal of Computing in Higher Education shows that open textbook adoption has the following impacts on learning outcomes of post-secondary students:

  • higher or equivalent grades
  • higher average credit load
  • higher or equivalent completion rates

Ultimately, using OER in 1 course per year could save US students $1.42 billion (Student PIRGs).

If you would like to find and use open educational resources, The University of Minnesota created an Open Textbook Library that is a “tool to help instructors find affordable, quality textbook solutions.”

Have a happy Open Access Week!