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The Social Science Research Network (SSRN) is a website devoted to the promotion of scholarship in the fields of economics, finance, accounting, management and law. SSRN was founded by Michael C. Jensen (a famous financial economist) and is run by him and other highly respected scholars.
Academic papers can be posted by the author as a PDF document on SSRN. Academics can subscribe to e-mail newsletter covering various subject matters and will then periodically receive emails providing the abstracts of papers recently submitted to SSRN in the respective field, and a link to the paper.
Since its foundation in late 1994, SSRN has grown tremendously in importance in the academic community. In economics, and to some degree in law (especially in the field of law and economics), almost all papers will now first be published on SSRN before being submitted to an academic journal. This has the advantage that publications will usually become widely known in the academic community at an early stage, which will allow the author to incorporate comments into the final version of the paper before it is published in a journal. The email newsletters ensure that other scholars learn about the paper, which is of crucial importance, given the large number of academic journals. Furthermore, SSRN offers a search function which allows scholars to find sources for citation.
Usually, once a paper is accepted for publication in a journal, it is removed from SSRN with only an abstract remaining there.