Open Access for International Criminal Lawyers

in International Criminal Law Review
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This study investigates to what extent Open Access is useful for international criminal lawyers. Free reuse and distribution may be particularly advantageous for the audience in less resourceful countries. And individual authors need visibility to promote their academic reputation. However, many publishers share commercial interests that are not fully consistent with Open Access. This study also explores the extended coverage of Open Access sources pertaining to international criminal law. The inventory of various publishing channels noted in this study shows the great potential of Open Access to users with different interests. In particular, through the availability of a couple of first-rate Open Access journals and free databases supported by international organisations, evidence is found that Open Access is significant in the field of international criminal law.

Open Access for International Criminal Lawyers

in International Criminal Law Review




Bestafka-Cruzsupra note 2 p. 561: ‘Judgments form the most central type of information related to the tribunals as they are after all the purpose for a tribunal’s existence. As a result researchers looking into various types of questions may find it useful or in many cases necessary to look into the case law of a tribunal. From understanding the interpretations of laws to getting facts about what occurred during the conflicts that gave rise to the tribunals judgments are an invaluable source in getting access to objective and extremely detailed information. Because these documents are so central each court will make a prominent part of the tribunal website geared to accessing these documents. For the older and more established tribunals the system will often use a search engine while younger or smaller tribunals will use a browsing system. This in part is due to the volume of documents available thus far but it also is a result of the time the tribunal has had to establish systems for research. Regardless of the type of system though a tribunal’s website is almost always the most up-to-date and comprehensive location for a researcher to explore case law’.


Bestafka-Cruzsupra note 2 p. 521: ‘[it is important] to include as many variations of terms as possible both in regard to key concepts and in the names of institutions. Synonyms like tribunal court chambers war crimes crimes against humanity and others are terms that are often used interchangeably. To ensure one’s research captures a wide portion of relevant materials a researcher should look at ways terms may be varied and combined to enlarge the search results. In doing so it should be kept in mind though that broader terms will result in broader and larger results whereas narrower terms will tend to lead to more discrete and fewer results’. And p. 524: ‘One of the most overlooked nuances of researching the tribunals is the difference between British English and American English’.


Bestafka-Cruzsupra note 2 p. 537: ‘Although the system allows one to search directly for articles the system can be a little misleading as it does not necessarily search into each journal the database has access to. As an example the Duke Journal of Comparative and International Law may be accessed through the database. By following that link to the journal’s website one can search for ‘international tribunal’ in the archives of the journal and find an article on the relationship between national and international courts in prosecuting war crimes. But if one searches even the title of the article in the doaj system it will result in nothing. Because of this researchers can search the system for keywords or abstract descriptions but to fully explore the collection one will need to enter into journals of interest and search using each journal’s archive or search system’.


Frosiosupra note 9 pp. 67–68.


Bestafka-Cruzsupra note 2 p. 536: ‘ssrn is a unique service that collects academic writings and papers in work as submitted by authors. The nature of the collection allows its sources to be very timely and cutting edge as they are available often before the articles are officially published. As a result the service allows researchers to have a sneak peek at upcoming publications arguments and materials that may be relevant to the area they are interested in. The use of a search engine system allows the collection to be very user-friendly for new researchers as they can search across topics keywords articles and other information to find either general information or specific types of articles. Furthermore as the nature of the tribunals involve rapidly developing areas of law (in comparison to other types of law) these working papers can be invaluable in giving researchers an idea of the changing areas without requiring a fee as many journal collections require for already published materials … Because of the extent of the database there is a balance to strike between the use of broad search terms when looking for general information and yet still having a narrow enough search so as to still make sure the results are closely connected to the international tribunals. In using the tool researchers should be careful to avoid terms that may include results outside of the un criminal tribunals (such as only searching for “international” and “tribunals”) since the database will likely include papers written on other topics with those words. In part because the database does not search full text the results can be filtered by instead strategically searching in titles and abstracts’.

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