Assessing Heinonline as a Source of Scholarly Impact Metrics
114 Law Libr. J. __ (2022)
69 Pages Posted: 10 Dec 2021 Last revised: 22 Feb 2022
Date Written: December 1, 2021
After the February 2019 U.S. News & World Report announcement of a planned law school scholarly impact ranking based on HeinOnline data, law schools accelerated efforts to ensure that HeinOnline captured their faculty’s work product and citations to these publications as accurately and completely as possible. In summer 2021, U.S. News abandoned its plans, but the endeavors undertaken by law schools during the two and a half years the proposal was live, reveal much about the scope and accuracy of HeinOnline ScholarCheck metrics, as well as the power U.S. News exerts over law schools. This article notes some of the actions law libraries pursued during that period, specifically detailing an extensive citation analysis project conducted by the Drake Law Library. This study found that HeinOnline missed a significant rate of available citations (14.6 percent) in their ScholarCheck service, and it provides anecdotal data on some common HeinOnline citation-matching errors responsible for the missing citations. Hein was quite amenable to correcting ScholarCheck errors, but the process was somewhat slow and incomplete, likely due to a surge in submitted corrections after the U.S. News announcement. Further, the study documents that although identifying and correcting the HeinOnline errors was time-intensive, it improved the overall ScholarRank for Drake Law faculty. Yet, the study also calls into question several aspects of the ScholarRank system, including just how meaningful changes may be at different levels of the ranks. Finally, the article provides recommendations for librarians, journals, and authors interested in raising scholarly visibility and improving the use of legal scholarly metrics.
Keywords: bibliometrics, citation analysis, citation metrics, HeinOnline, law schools, legal publishing, legal scholarship, rankings, ScholarCheck, ScholarRank, scholarly impact, U.S. News & World Report
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