Journal turns the page on going paperless

By Adrianna C . Rodriguez

Binderless shelves, empty paper drawers and dusty recycle bins prove the University of Florida Journal of Law and Public Policy (JLPP) is busier than ever. JLPP has set an extraordinary precedent as the first journal at UF, and possibly nationwide, to go green — replacing once cluttered shelves, heavy binders and overworked printers with an electronic system that allows journal members to edit articles electronically, and from remote locations, without printing a single document.

“JLPP is setting the precedent for all other UF law journals and reviews,” said Dena Setzer, the journal’s editor in chief and a third-year law student. “Our members are constantly thinking outside the box about ways we can improve our own publication and editorial process, as well as ways we can positively impact our law school community.”

The journal’s electronic editing process was developed by Alex King, the journal’s managing editor and a second-year law student, using software available for free download from the Internet.

King created an account for the journal on Windows Live. Once on JLPP’s network, members can access the journal’s SkyDrive, a program that allows documents to be stored, uploaded and downloaded by registered group members. Through the Through the SkyDrive, journal members access and edit articles from anywhere, download the sources related to footnotes, highlight material relevant to the footnotes being edited, make any corrections and upload edited documents back to the SkyDrive for all journal members to access and edit. It’s a unique system that facilitates close collaboration on working documents, even when group members are miles apart.

“I am very impressed with the JLPP students’ willingness to tackle the difficult challenge of developing a paperless editing system for the journal,” said Mary Jane Angelo, UF associate professor of law specializing in environmental law. “They have come up with a very creative way to eliminate the need for the large quantities of paper that are typically used during the editing process.”

Before the system, journal members would print reams of paper to document each source for every footnote, and stacks of binders were compiled of research used in every footnote of every article published in each of the three issues of the journal printed each year. By enabling article edits to be done electronically, King estimates the journal has eliminated 17,500 printed pages for each issue.

“It was extremely wasteful and very expensive,” King said of the old editing system. Although the software used to implement the system was free, journal members did make a significant investment of time developing and learning how to use it. Each person underwent five training sessions, where they became familiar with using the editing system, worked to make improvements to it and developed a 30-page manual for future journal members to continue the system.

“This is a positive step toward creating a more environmentally conscious college,” Angelo said. “Not only does it save paper and the energy associated with producing, distributing and printing, but it also saves money, which is so important during this time of severe budget cuts. I hope that JLPP’s new system will serve as an inspiration and a model for other journals.”