Stop Counting (Or At Least Count Better)
JOTWELL: The Journal of Things We Like (Lots) 2014, Forthcoming
14 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2014 Last revised: 24 Oct 2014
Date Written: October 6, 2014
For American legal scholarship to fulfill its purpose, it must have an impact on the development of the actual law as it is enacted and interpreted in the United States. However, legal scholarship broadly — and law review articles in particular — has become less influential on judges and members of the practicing bar over time. This short essay argues that the decline is partly attributable to the open reliance on metrics that primarily represent influence within the legal academy when measuring the value of a scholar’s work. In particular, I argue that a focus on metrics with only a tenuous connection to non-academic usage of a new scholar’s work, such as download counts, law journal citation count-based ranking methodologies, and article placement, incentivizes new legal writers to write for other academics rather than for judges, attorneys in practice, or policy-makers.
Keywords: Citations; law faculty rankings; SSRN downloads; article placement; legal scholarship
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