Evaluation

Publishing on a Website

The idea of setting up a website[1] originally came from Esther Hoorn, a great grandchild of Paul Scholten and employed at the University Library in Groningen. We met at the book presentation of Dorsten naar Gerechtigheid, a re-edition of the first chapter of Paul Scholten’s Algemeen Deel and some Verzamelde Geschriften, selected and provided with an introduction by Timo Slootweg. The book presentation was held at the Faculty of Law of the University of Amsterdam. To my surprise, the Dean of the Faculty mentioned in his speech the likelihood that I would make an English translation of Algemeen Deel, an idea I had mentioned briefly in an earlier conversation about other things. During the drinks Esther inspired me to put the translation, which had turned into a near-fact, on a website as part of a larger project to make all of Paul Scholten’s work available in open access. She brought me in contact with Saskia Woutersen-Windhouwer, who then worked at the University Library of the University of Amsterdam (now Leiden).

People working at university libraries were at that time (2010) wondering why scholars made such little use of the new possibilities offered by website publishing, such as publishing in open access, enhancing publications with links and developing new forms of collaboration as described, e.g., in Reinventing Discovery by Michael Nielsen.[2] DPSP became a pilot project in open publishing. By simply getting started we would discover where the problems were.  It turned out to be an extremely difficult trajectory. The members of the board of DPSP were often driven to despair by the incomprehensible Newspeak we needed to learn to understand the domain in which we found ourselves by our attempt to use a website as a form of scientific publication. The publishing world would also change completely in the ten years that elapsed from the start of the project. A cartel developed between universities and some publishing houses around publishing in open access. This would marginalize most existing small scientific journals. From 2015 on it became increasingly clear that a scholarly article just posted on a website would not be acknowledged as a scientific publication.

 

Scientific Heritage

DPSP was more than a pilot for merely publishing in open access. It was first and foremost a project to preserve scientific heritage and to keep it publicly available. In the completion phase of the project, the board was confronted with the question of how the website would be preserved after financing by the faculty of law would stop in 2020 and the link with the University of Amsterdam would be cut.

How was the website to be hosted in the future? Ten years long the website had been hosted under my name. I paid the provider and the faculty paid me. In discussions about setting up a foundation to host the website, the appalling truth came to light that the website with the scanned and corrected works of Paul Scholten and the side to side presentations of the translations of his work, could not be saved from rapid fall into obscurity. Large publishing houses create visibility for their websites for advertising their products. Scientific sites, such as DPSP, despite drawing highly motivated readers, receive far fewer visitors. Without many visitors a website drops out of sight. This problem could easily be solved if, for example, universities would join together and set up a registration system for websites that have cultural significance. Web items could be tagged and identified with a number derived from a website’s registration number. Such identified web items could then be individually archived and cataloged by university libraries and thus be searchable.

There was no such registration system, however. As soon as it became clear that the board could do nothing to protect the website from a rapid descent into oblivion once the link with the faculty was cut, it no longer made sense to establish a hosting foundation for the website. It meant that the board had lost its function and that the website would remain in my personal possession.

 

DPSP Annual: Continuation after Completion

An ISSN registration system exists for journals. If we were to tie the website to a journal it would be possible to remain visible and be archivable and catalogable. This became my plan: DPSP Annual would become a journal for which an ISSN registration could be acquired. This is in fact what happened. DPSP Annual has been launched and will contain the contributions to annual Paul Scholten symposia and will include new translations of the Collected Papers (Verzamelde Geschriften) which are relevant to the themes of the symposia.

I have chosen to be the journal’s only permanent editor and to collaborate with guest-editors to organize the symposia. DPSP Annual thus has an editing construction similar to the way special issues of a journal or contributed volumes for a publishing house are produced. The benefit now, however, is that contributions will be in open access and will have been subjected to open peer review.

 

The Publication Model of DPSP Annual

Of the three types of journal explained below, DPSP has opted for the third model.

1) Open access based on agreements between universities and publishers. Two journals have been selected from the domain of Dutch general jurisprudence: Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis/Revue d’Histoire du Droit/The Legal History Review, published by Brill, and the Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, published by Boom. The articles in these journals have a doi-number (digital-object-identifier) which makes them easily identifiable on the internet as articles in journals which have been qualified by universities as source of science. Sometimes these journals are called A-journals, suggesting that these journals have a high impact rate. It is by a decision of the assembled representatives of departments of general jurisprudence of the Dutch universities, however, that these journals are qualified. Because of their doi-number the articles in these journals are automatically cataloged and archived.

2. Not open access. Many academic journals existed before the open access policy of the Universities became dominant. Publications in these journals do not have a doi-number for automatic cataloguing and archival. In consultation with their faculties, university libraries attach, solely for their own staff, a PDF with a Handle-number, which is equivalent to the doi-numbers, to catalog and archive these publications. The human resource and research policy of the faculties determines which articles of the staff will be processed in this way.

3. Open Access not based on agreements between universities and publishers. The publications in DPSP Annual are in open access and have been subjected to an open peer review procedure. As such the journal is eligible for registration by doaj.org (Directory of Open Access Journals). DPSP Annual will aim for this registration, which will create the possibility to attribute doi-numbers to publications.

 

Acknowledgements

I would first of all like to thank Edgar du Perron for giving me the opportunity to initiate the Paul Scholten project. In a rather unconventional way he turned a complaint I made about the human resource policy in the Department of General Jurisprudence into a challenge to me to show what I could do if I had the opportunity to do research my way. I would also like to thank Laurens Winkel, who as Chair supported the project with his large international network of scholars and his broad knowledge of legal history. Importantly, from the start it was clear that Laurens and I had opposite opinions about two essential things. First, Laurens thought that it would turn out to be impossible to administer a publication project on a website, exactly what I aimed to do. Second, Laurens thought it scientifically unacceptable to think – as I did – that a researcher who could not fluently read ancient Greek, could have a divergent interpretation of the old texts of Aristotle, and could even think that it would be possible to interpret Paul Scholten in the framework of Aristotelian philosophy. This was also exactly what I proposed to do. These could have been reasons for him not to become a member of the board, let alone become its chair. The point was that Laurens knew that without somebody like me, Paul Scholten would soon be no more than one or two obligatory references in many articles, while I knew that Laurens’ opinion was largely shared by legal philosophers and that his support would be very important to keep the project alive. Both issues have dogged the project. Patience and endurance have been necessary to stay the course. I have explained earlier how the careful analysis of the difficulties of publishing in open access was made possible in board discussions by the expertise of Esther Hoorn and Saskia Woutersen-Windhouwer, and how this in the end helped to fully understand the problem.

The issue about Aristotle also required exceptional care. The Second Scholten Symposium, On Law and Emotion in 2014, was combined with the workshop Aristotle: Law, Reason and Emotion to make a book proposal for Springer. We hoped to use this combination and publication by Springer to legitimize application of my expertise on Aristotle in interpreting Paul Scholten’s work. Even though the Symposium was financed by the Faculty of Law, there was serious opposition from some members of my department. Laurens’ support proved, however, to be enough to have a successful workshop. During the workshop it became clear how frustrating the prohibition on the scientific use of Aristotle was, and how this bar enabled the defense and conservation of false attributions to Aristotle.

A deep crisis for the Paul Scholten project emerged in November 2016 when a rumor circulated at the faculty that Springer, after having initially accepted the proposal, intended to refuse the manuscript due to poor quality. To save the Paul Scholten project it would have to be untied from Aristotle. The Editorial Board went into a lockdown. In the middle of 2017 Springer gave notice that it was willing to publish the book, Aristotle on Emotions in Law and Politics, after all. Laurens was the first to congratulate me and from that moment on, the Aristotle issue was resolved. The Board could resume its work.

Great is my gratitude to my former colleagues André Hoekema and Niels van Manen, both of whom became members of the project’s Advisory Board. We worked together for many years, and in addition to many good memories of our many discussions in our unit of legal sociology, to which also Agnes Schreiner, Robert Knegt, Joris Kocken, Frank van Ree, Wibo van Rossem, Damir Urem and the guest Sietse Steenstra belonged, I have been especially inspired by André’s and Niel’s theoretical work in their book, Typen van Legaliteit (Types of Legality). Their book reveals in a seminal way how sociology has influenced legal practice. We have discussed the topic of formal rationality for many hours, which according to their book is the traditional concept of law. On this I have a different opinion. I thought that they tangled up two different concepts of law in their type of formal rational legality. DPSP is concerned to disentangle these two concepts.  The unit of legal sociology was bargained away out of the blue in a sudden change of plans during a reorganization. As a result of this, Niels and André made a career change and after some years, I ended up with the Paul Scholten project. This project was a continuation of the theoretical work I had been doing all along, and I was glad that the project provided the opportunity to continue my collaboration with them. They were co-organizers of our first Scholten symposium; Niels contributed a keynote speech to it; André laid the basis for the third symposium and supported the project financially with a substantial contribution. Niels intervened significantly in the last phase of the project to help clarify my choice to continue the project in a personal capacity.

The contribution of Marjanne Termorshuizen-Arts has been invaluable to the project. Together with native speaker Cassandra Steer, she was a member of the translation committee. She discovered the existence of the two Indonesian translations of Algemeen Deel in the National Archives and helped get them online. She co-organized the third symposium, along with Adriaan Bedner. Above all, she became a good friend who supported me with welcome short notes and supportive comments. Antoinette Muntjewerff was the energetic and cheerful liaison officer between the Board and the Department of General Jurisprudence. Bram Scholten, Paul Scholten’s grandson, was the person who with silent diplomacy kept the Board together and who gave me the courage to move forward at a number of decisive moments. In the last phase of the project, in 2019, Bram tried to figure out along with Saskia if the DPSP-website could be integrated into the web system of the University of Amsterdam in a manner that could protect it from dropping off into oblivion. Although no clear answer materialized, the process in itself was an answer by making clear that no clear answer would ever be given. This finally brought home the conclusion that the Board could do nothing to protect ten years of work from being forgotten. And so the function of the Board came to its end.

In this context I would also like to thank Pieter Bon from Wolters Kluwer, who in the period 2015/2016 conferred with me about the possibilities of publishing the project. It did not lead to a concrete result, but one meeting in particular in Deventer between people of the firm and members of the Board was very important. We learned that the problems we had detected were acknowledged by the firm and this generated some common understanding about possible solutions.

Jelmer van der Ploeg kept the costs of programming low by continually forcing me to be precise in formulating what I wanted to realize on the website and why. For elaborating the theoretical substance of my interest in Scholten, I am grateful for long discussions with Rens van Zaltbommel and Gerard Drosterij; the latter especially also for reading and texting about Aristotle.

Further, I want to thank Jean-Louis Halpérin, Jaakko Husa and Burkhard Schafer for finding financial support from their respective universities to support a proposal for submission to NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research) in 2011. The fact that NWO gave a thumbs up to the project on eligibility (it did not select it for funding), enabled us to receive financial support from the Faculty of Law. All three scholars were invited as keynote speakers for the First Paul Scholten Symposium and two of their contributions were published in DPSP Annual 2020.

Finally, I want to thank all authors and reviewers who contributed to the first volume of DPSP Annual. Some had to wait long time before their article was finally “officially” published. I have experienced for myself, what I had heard from other contributed volume editors, that as an editor you learn an incredible amount from your authors. And finally, I want to thank Jacqueline Schoonheim who succeeded Cassandra Steer in editing the English language on the website. She has helped me in particular with her “outsider” comment on issues that would not be informative for a non-Dutch reader or were altogether too vague.

 



[1] This evaluation was written in 2020 on the occasion of the completion of the Digital Paul Scholten project (DPSP) and the coming online of a new website, by Liesbeth Huppes-Cluysenaer.

[2] Michael Nielsen, Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science. (S.l.: Princeton University Press, 2012).

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