By Gregg Gordon
SSRN reached two major milestones recently: one million papers have now been uploaded to the site, and our content has been downloaded two hundred million times. Academics are often used to big numbers and abstract concepts, but to put that into context it would take nearly 1.4m hours to read all the papers now on SSRN (that’s the equivalent of 158 years). In fact, if you laid the pages of every paper on SSRN side by side, you would go around the world three times…
And the platform doesn’t just boast volume, but depth. SSRN houses information from across the disciplinary spectrum, from life and physical sciences to social sciences and humanities. Papers written by researchers from almost every country in the world have been posted on the platform and have then been read by an equally wide audience: the top 10 countries downloading SSRN papers are: United States, United Kingdom, India, Germany, Canada, Australia, The Netherlands, Italy, France and Spain.
Researchers from a variety of disciplines and regions are now taking advantage of the reach and input of SSRN to enrich their insight:
This increasing adoption of open-access, early-stage research publishing as a complement to the journal system is encouraging and timely. We face complex challenges with both universal and geographically specific ramifications that necessitate exactly this kind of collaborative, diverse and inclusive research dialogue. As the world slowly emerges from the shadow of the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to ensure that we are making the knowledge lifecycle as efficient and effective as possible.
But while it is important that we recognise the power of pre-prints, we must also remember their strength is in supporting, not displacing, the peer review process. Both publishing paths play crucial, complementary roles in the scientific process and give researchers the agency to publish in a way that works for them and their research.
Through SSRN we have made an important and – as these milestones show – successful step to evolve the options for the research community and have helped facilitate the rapid exchange of knowledge and ideas at a scale we could scarcely imagine when we founded it more than twenty years ago. But as any researcher will tell you; there are many paths to scientific progress, and we will continue to rely on all elements of the research publication ecosystem to meet the challenges we face ahead.