Law Review Impact and Prestige: A Quantitative Study
31 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2019 Last revised: 28 May 2020
Date Written: January 27, 2020
We perform an empirical study on law reviews to compare their impact factor with their publishing school's ranking—the criterion used by most law professors to make publication decisions. We compare both variables' correlation and predictability and suggest that law professors often face a tradeoff between maximizing publication prestige and scholarship exposure. We first show that school ranking and impact factor correlate. The correlation varies over time, with impact factor showing a larger inter-annual variation than school ranking. We then show that journals published by top law schools have high inter-annual variation in impact factor but their ordinal impact-factor-based ranking remains stable. We then consider authors’ utility from publishing in one law review over another. The optimal strategy for authors will depend on whether they prefer to maximize their prestige among their peers or their impact on the discipline, their career stage, and how risk averse they are. Conditional on desiring impact, risk-averse scholars are better off looking at school ranking and risk-neutral scholars are better off looking at impact factor.
Keywords: legal journals, law reviews, publishing, legal academia, impact factor, academic tenure, law professors, legal profession
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