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Launching the SCALES Open Source Software Repository

The SCALES-OKN team is very excited today to announce the launch of our first public software repository, PACER-tools, which can be accessed on Github.

This repository is a place for us to share our tools with other researchers that work with data from PACER. As we build our knowledge network, our set of tools is expanding to deal with the acquisition, extraction, and synthesis of  data in an effort to ask new questions of court records. At SCALES, our goal is always to support the broader community so we are focused on shipping as much of our software and toolset once it’s fit for consumption to help speed up the pace of research and innovation across the field.

The main component of the PACER-tools repository at present is our software for automatically acquiring data from PACER. The software has three parts and allows the user to download query results, docket reports and case documents. It can also complete these queries as as separate tasks or in sequence, so given a PACER query it will download all cases and associated documents for the query parameters.

 

It helps to overcome many of the technical challenges (other than cost) associated with downloading large volumes of data from PACER . Hopefully, this software will help improve the accessibility of US court data for researchers and allow them to more easily acquire large datasets for research questions.

For anyone interested in checking out these tools, the repository includes a tutorial as a quick way to help users get started. It walks through how to use each of the three components of the scraper tool to download data from the free Pacer training site. We look forward to receiving feedback from users to help us to continue to improve and expand our research tools and pushing regular additions to our public repository.

As always, feel free to get in touch with us if you are interested in getting involved with SCALES OKN or if you are curious about any of our tools or research. 


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