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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gender, Race, and Age in SSRN Download Rankings

SSRN In our article, Ranking Law Schools: Using SSRN to Measure Scholarly Performance, 81 Ind. L.J. 83 (2006), Bernie Black and I noted that one of the advantages of SSRN download counts over the other faculty rankings measures (citation counts, publication counts, and reputation surveys) is that SSRN downloads favor younger scholars at improving law schools while the other measures favor more established scholars and schools.  We also noted that women and minorities are under-represented in SSRN download counts as they are in citation counts, publication counts, and reputation surveys, but speculated that the representation of women and minorities would improve in the future as they posted more papers on SSRN, particularly in the recent downloads measure.  We closed the article with case studies of the SSRN download rankings in our respective fields -- corporate and tax law (pp. 120-22).  The SSRN download data were from August 2005.  The chart below compares that data with the most recent tax download data (September 2009) on gender, race, and age:

Top 25

All-Time Downloads

Top 25

Recent Downloads

2005

2009

2005

2009

% Women

16%

20%

20%

39%

% Men

84%

80%

80%

61%

% Minority

8%

4%

0%

0%

% White

92%

96%

100%

100%

Mean Age

47.0

47.6

45.4

46.3

Median Age

47.0

48.0

44.5

47.0

Earlier this year, I asked Why Do Female Tax Profs Do Better in the SSRN Rankings Than Their Nontax Counterparts?.  The representation of women in the Top 25 has increased from 2005 to 2009 in both all-time (4 percentage points) and recent (19) downloads.  However, the representation of minorities has decreased in all-time downloads (4) downloads and has stayed at 0 in recent downloads (based on self reporting in the AALS listing of minority law teachers).

On the age front, Tax Profs in the Top 25 of the SSRN download rankings in both 2005 (all time: 47.0 mean, 47.0 median; recent: 45.4 mean, 44.5 median) and 2009 (all time: 47.6 mean, 48.0 median; recent: 46.3 mean, 47.0 median) are much younger than Tax Profs (55 mean, 54 median) and law professors (53 mean, 52 median) generally.  Eric A. Lustig, Who We Are: An Empirical Study of the Tax Law Professoriate, 1 Pitt. Tax Rev. 85 (2003) (2001 AALS data).  However, the mean and median ages have increased from 2005 to 2009 in both download categories -- all-time (0.6 mean, 1.0 median) and recent (0.9 mean, 2.5 median) downloads.

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2009/10/age-gender-and-.html

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Comments

What is the representation of women and minorities among tax faculty? What are the relative publishing rates as compared to their representation? There are numerous other factors that could impact publication rate...

Raw numbers may make a nice politically correct point, but absent proper context they are meaningless.

Posted by: Todd | Oct 6, 2009 12:40:48 PM

Other than the fact that they are racist, sexist, and subject to easy manipulation, I think SSRN downloads are a superb way to measure faculty productivity.

Posted by: mike livingston | Oct 6, 2009 6:02:38 PM