A Report into Methodologies Underpinning Australian Law Journal Rankings. Prepared for the Council of Australian Law Deans (CALD)

75 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2016 Last revised: 27 Apr 2016

See all articles by Kathy Bowrey

Kathy Bowrey

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - UNSW Law & Justice

Date Written: February 8, 2016


Law schools face significant institutional pressure to adopt journal ranking lists that are used to inform comparative assessment of the Faculty, School and individual researcher performance. CALD has commissioned a written report that: 1. critically evaluates the methodology of up to eight Law journal lists or rankings agreed to by the parties; 2. makes recommendations about the suitability of the lists to act as a proxy for academic research quality, including suggesting revisions or modifications to methodology and reference to how to maintain the currency of any proposed list, as appropriate; 3. comments on the utility of the lists in view of the suggested purposes for which they may be used.

This report is in four parts.

Part One provides a brief overview of bibliometric databases and indices currently in use in the higher education sector to assess research productivity, quality and influence. New non-citation based alternative metrics for the Humanities and perception studies are also discussed. There is also discussion of the Washington & Lee journal ranking list, which underpinned the original CALD/ERA lists. An updated version informed the Deakin List. This part also contains comments on difficulties in applying existing bibliometrics to the output of Australian legal researchers.

Part Two provides analysis of the following Australian law journal ranking methodologies and lists: CALD list (2009); ERA 2010; Australian Business Deans Council Journal Quality List 2013; Deakin University Law Journal Rankings; University Of Tasmania Law Journal Rankings. This part also includes tables that allow for review of the performance of particular law journals across the various ranking lists provided.

Part Three addresses new developments in research assessment and current critical literature on the use and misuse of metrics.

Part Four provides recommendations to guide future discussion of the use of metrics to assess legal research.

Keywords: law journal ranking, metrics, research assessment, Australia

Suggested Citation

Bowrey, Kathy, A Report into Methodologies Underpinning Australian Law Journal Rankings. Prepared for the Council of Australian Law Deans (CALD) (February 8, 2016). UNSW Law Research Paper No. 2016-30, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2734017 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2734017

Kathy Bowrey (Contact Author)

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - UNSW Law & Justice ( email )

Kensington, New South Wales 2052

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