Measuring Scholarly Impact in Law

41 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2021 Last revised: 20 May 2022

See all articles by Karen L. Wallace

Karen L. Wallace

Drake University Law School

Rebecca Lutkenhaus

Drake University Law School

Date Written: October 8, 2021

Abstract

In February 2019, U.S. News & World Report announced a proposal to use HeinOnline data to publish a scholarly impact ranking of law schools. As a result, interest in using scholarly metrics to quantitatively assess legal scholarship soared. Legal scholars debated several issues, including: the concept of evaluating scholarly impact through citation metrics; the ramifications of publishing this information alongside the highly criticized, but undeniably influential, U.S. News law school rankings; the optimal procedures for creating such a ranking; the rationale underlying the decisions involved in establishing a methodology; and HeinOnline’s available content and metrics. The concerns raised ultimately led U.S. News to abandon its planned ranking in summer 2021, two and a half years after its initial announcement. This article considers the views legal scholars expressed regarding the proposed ranking, contextualizing these ideas within broader principles of bibliometric analyses. It argues that although the U.S. News proposal died, legal bibliometric studies will persist and the academy should develop standards for the responsible creation and use of scholarly impact analyses.

Keywords: bibliometrics, citation analysis, citation metrics, HeinOnline, h-index, law schools, legal publishing, legal scholarship, rankings, scholarly impact, scholarly integrity, U.S. News & World Report,

Suggested Citation

Wallace, Karen L. and Lutkenhaus, Rebecca, Measuring Scholarly Impact in Law (October 8, 2021). 28 Widener L. Rev. 145 (May/June 2022), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3938998

Karen L. Wallace (Contact Author)

Drake University Law School ( email )

Opperman Hall
2507 University Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50311
United States

Rebecca Lutkenhaus

Drake University Law School ( email )

Opperman Hall
2507 University Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50311
United States

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