I was reading an article that had been posted on SSRN and noticed that every page had a header reading:
Work in progress. Please get permission from the author before citing this piece.
Bold typeface and all.
Granting that I'm a cranky curmudgeon, but this is just stupid. Why would you post a draft to SSRN--which anybody anywhere in the world with access to a search engine can download, copy, cite, quote, plagiarize or what have you--and try to protect it from being cited or quoted?
Look, if your article is not ready for prime time, don't put it on the internet where everything lives forever. If it is ready, let people do what they want with it.
Update: From Larry Solum's blog:
Lee Anne Fennell (University of Chicago Law School) has posted Do Not Cite or Circulate (Green Bag 2d (2015 Forthcoming)) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This short essay ponders why legal scholars attach formulations such as "Do Not Cite or Circulate" to draft works. It argues against the practice in most circumstances, particularly for work posted on the internet.
And from the article:
If a draft still needs a lot of work, the phrase “preliminary and incomplete” might be added. It signals that there’s a later draft to come, but doesn’t tell readers what to do with the draft in their hands. Another alternative is something like this: “Draft [date]; contact author at [email] for the most recent version.” This works well too, assuming one does eventually generate a more recent version. Best of all is to indicate where the paper is forthcoming, once one knows. This does a world of good in inducing accurate updating without reducing the chance that you’ll be cited at all. The use of an “Academic Circulation Encouraged” or “ACE” label would also be helpful in clarifying how the work can be used.
Highly recommended & in my opinion correct. Download it while its hot!