It’s been a year since SSRN joined Elsevier, with its mission to provide “tomorrow’s research today.” SSRN is a world-leading preprint server and working paper repository. Over 2 million researchers use this free resource and take part in its 30 community-driven networks, which cover disciplines such as economics, management and law.
Recently, David Tucker, who manages communications for Elsevier's Research Products, caught up with SSRN Managing Director Gregg Gordon for an update.
Tell us what’s happened at SSRN over the past 12 months?
It’s been a whirlwind of activity; we have grown our staff by close to 50 percent, tripled the size of our office in Rochester and made significant investments in technology and people.
The best thing for me personally is that I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with people throughout Elsevier. I’ve had fantastic resources around me, not just financial and technical, but people. It’s been exciting to work with so many smart people. I’ve been amazed with the dedication everyone has shown to our business from day one, a year ago.
What have been the key milestones for SSRN over the past year?
The most recognizable milestones have been technical. We’ve released full-text search and have completely redesigned the website to make it cleaner and easier to use.
We’re working towards deeper integration with Elsevier’s other research products, particularly Mendeley and its reference management software. We’re also working on a broader, better sign-in process across Elsevier products so people can seamlessly go from one product to another.
Then we have all the other milestones that aren’t technology-related, most recently with Wharton Research Data Services. We’ve created an award with them to recognize innovative business schools emerging programs that are doing data-driven research.
There’s a tremendous amount still to do and I don’t think the work will ever be complete. As research itself evolves, more people are doing different things, they’re sharing more and sharing earlier research at earlier stages. They’re looking for different tools, different analytics, different metrics to help them be more efficient and discover things earlier.
You’ve recently moved offices too?
It’s amazing. We’ve gone from an office that was a few cobbled together in a former paint store, to a truly modern office space. If I’m being honest, we were apprehensive about the move, but I was wrong to be. From the location and layout to the technology and overall design of the office, we’re ecstatic.
What does your average day look like?
I used to travel a fair bit, but now I travel an extremely fair bit! My time is broken up into three areas: first, where we are today, our brand, our team, taking care of our users; then looking ahead, strategy and particularly looking at new and early-stage research sharing; and thirdly, helping SSRN integrate into the other areas of Elsevier, like data analytics.
How is SSRN usage doing?
Paper submissions are up, new authors are up, downloads and usage across the board are up. We’re also getting deeper and better integration with our users. We’re happy more people are using SSRN but even happier that SSRN has become a more important part of the research process. We’re looking to expand the disciplines in SSRN, enhance our existing networks and grow more users in different regions around the world.
What are SSRN’s priorities going forward?
Our priority is to take what we know about sharing early-stage research and start to apply it to other disciplines. As we’ve seen the preprint space grow, we’ve been able to start applying our expertise to other areas.
I think the core concept of helping researchers connect – helping them incubate ideas and share data, conference and working papers – is key. We’re moving further up the line to even earlier work and to help different disciplines share research with each other. How does the lawyer share her research with the biologist? How does the economist share his ideas with the neuroscientist?
The idea isn’t just to share working papers, it’s to help researchers share the different pieces of their research dialogue and collaborate across disciplines.
What are preprints and preprint servers?
A preprint is the author’s own write-up of research results and analysis that has not been peer-reviewed or had any value added to it by a publisher (such as formatting, copy editing and technical enhancements). A preprint server like SSRN, or working paper repositories as they are also known, allow users to share these documents.
SSRN by the numbers
- Over 2 million researchers use SSRN and take part in its 30 community-driven networks.
- SSRN has nearly 600,000 papers and over 700,000 abstracts, from over 325,000 submissions from authors around the globe.
- SSRN has been serving the research community since 1994 and remains free to submit and free to download.