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Home Announcements and Events How Much Public International Law Scholarship is There?

How Much Public International Law Scholarship is There?

Published on January 10, 2017        Author: 

Two years ago I started to try and keep track of and categorize all of the PIL books published in a year. That yielded a figure of about 400 in English, French, and German. I wanted to count journal articles too but soon realized it was too big a job and one I couldn’t justify spending time on. Add to that the increasing number of well-researched blog posts and even for professional scholars just keeping up with all that is published must be daunting.

untitled1In the hope of providing a solution we have been developing a web-based tool to help scholars spend less time finding out what has been published on a topic and more time analysing and assessing it. The fruit of our labour is called ResearchTrack which provides information about newly published scholarship with links to the originals where access to the full content may be available, and will cover outputs from all publishers. We are opening it up to the public from today. The current version is a free “beta” version i.e. it is being used for a pilot study (running to the end of February 2017) during which we will hope to get lots of feedback about the overall usefulness of the idea and how we can improve it for a permanent version (should there prove to be sufficient interest). The pilot phase has two disciplines: Public International Law and International Relations.

Coverage

In terms of coverage we track books, journal articles, and substantive blog pieces. During this pilot phase it only covers English language materials systematically but I would like to hear from any teams who might be interested in helping us to broaden out. Our team of external editors decide whether something merits inclusion based purely on whether it is potentially of interest to a PIL researcher; inclusion does not reflect an assessment of quality.

Antecedents

I should acknowledge the existence of other projects which have also attempted to fill this need. One is the now defunct Weekly International Law Digest produced by Don Anton which listed in a weekly PDF everything that had come out in PIL, and the other of course is the still active International Law Reporter run by the indefatigable Jacob Katz Cogan.

untitled2ResearchTrack differs from the latter in that our team of editors tags everything with subjects from our taxonomy of 300+ items and adds filters for geography. Users register and then personalize their data feed by choosing which topics they wish to track. You can choose as many topics as you want and easily add or remove new ones. Whenever you log in you will see a number showing you how many new items have been published in your areas of interest. Our hope is that in addition to being useful for tracking the latest scholarship it will over time become a way of building up a literature review on any given topic.

Pilot Phase

During the pilot phase which will run until the end of February 2017 we invite all PIL researchers to register, try it out, and tell us what you think. We are particularly keen on feedback about coverage (are we missing anything), types of content (what, besides books, blogs, and journals would you like to see tracked), usability of the site, and of course bugs. There is a feedback page (accessed by clicking on the arrow at the bottom of the page which opens up a small panel of options) or feel free to email me directly at john.louth {at} oup(.)com.

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