The Cite Stuff: Inventing a Better Law Faculty Relevance Measure
James Cleith Phillips
University of California, Berkeley - School of Law Dept. of Jurisprudence & Social Policy
University of California at Berkeley School of Law
September 3, 2012
UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 2140944
Citation rankings as a measure of scholarly quality are both controversial and popular. They provide a quantitative, albeit imperfect, measure of intellectual impact and productivity. But the number of times a scholar has been cited by his peers confers more than just bragging rights. They arguably help form the reputation of American legal scholars to the point that they have allegedly influenced faculty hiring decisions, and their collective impact may well shape the ranking of law schools themselves.
Arguably, the most well-known such metric for legal scholarship is the method used by Brian Leiter of the University of Chicago Law School and posted on his website. Despite the methodological rigorousness of the Leiter system, it suffers from some well-recognized limitations. It is biased in favor of schools with older, smaller faculties, for example, and against schools that do not produce as much peer-reviewed scholarship.
This study seeks to improve on earlier efforts by producing a more relevant and accurate citation-based ranking system. It produces a measure that explains 81 percent of the variation in the U.S. News academic peer rankings, implicitly revealing how schools could boost those rankings, and lists the most cited professors based on this new ranking methodology, both overall, amongst younger scholars, and in 20 areas of legal. This allows for the top school in each area of law to be calculated, which could be useful to aspiring JD students who desire to know the best school in the area(s) of law they are most interested in. Finally, this study proposes an alternative faculty ranking system focusing on the percentage of a law school faculty that are “All-Stars” (ranked in the top 10 in citations per year in an area of law). This alternative ranking system improves upon some of the weaknesses of previous faculty quality ranking methodologies and argues that citation-based studies do measure something important - relevance of scholarship.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 39working papers series
Date posted: September 6, 2012 ; Last revised: September 26, 2012
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