Tuesday, September 01, 2009


I've complained before about the APSA online service for annual meeting papers, PROceedings, which until this year used the terrible, terrible allacademic.com interface.

Now PROceedings is gone, so that's good. APSA's now using SSRN, which has numerous advantages-- conference papers will automatically show up on an author's page of other SSRN working papers, for example. And SSRN generates a stable URL for each paper, which PROceedings didn't do.

But... look at this mess. SSRN is ideal for searches by paper title or author. And its specialized subject-matter journals allow for browsing. But dumping hundreds of APSA papers into an unsorted pile means that browsing in this context is impossible. The APSA annual meeting is very usefully sorted into lots of divisions and organized sections, and for that matter into individual panels, to help people find the papers they want to attend. None of that categorization is carried over to SSRN.

Compare the interface with the online meeting program, which is better than ever this year. You can browse by division, or browse by tme, or search by keyword, or...

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to browse through the program and, when you reach a paper or panel listing, click right on a hotlink to go to the paper?

Instead it seems that the idea is: browse the APSA program, find a paper you're interested in, click over to SSRN, search for just that paper by author name. You can neither get to the papers from the program, nor see the program categories when you're looking through the papers.

(The other problem with SSRN, of course, is that it lacks full-text searches, for no reason I understand. But that's a chronic problem with them, not distinctive to the conference site.)

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