September 16, 2012
John Yoo Tortures Moneyball Analogy in Defending His Citation Count Study
University professors have had the luxury of thinking they are influential without having any way to prove or disprove it — which means that everyone could be a big fish in their small pond. But suppose you were a university president, dean, or simply a rich donor. Could you deploy resources to attract undervalued professors and build a faculty that would punch above its salary? In other words, if Harvard is the Yankees, could you build a faculty like the Oakland A's?
In our recent paper, a Ph.D student at Berkeley and I propose a way to measure faculty quality by counting up how many times professors are cited by other professors. This has been a controversial way to measure quality, but it is more objective than impressionistic opinions about who is smart and productive. In just a weekend, it has been downloaded at a faster rate than almost any other paper I've written -- which may also tell you a lot about professors.
For my take, see What Law Schools Can Learn from Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics, 82 Texas L. Rev. 1483 (2004). I would argue that the Yoo citation study is the antithesis of Moneyball -- because he focuses exclusively on faculty at the Top 16 law schools, Yoo's study cannot help "a university president [or] dean ... deploy resources to attract undervalued professors and build a faculty that would punch above its salary." Billy Beane did not use statistical measures to find undervalued players on the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees. He similarly would not hunt for undervaled faculty talent at Harvard or Yale -- Beane instead would use analytical tools to cherry pick faculty from among the 184 law schools ranked below the Top 16. Yoo's study would not help.
Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:
- Phillips & Yoo: A Better Faculty Citation Rankings System (Sept. 7, 2012)
- More on the Phillips & Yoo 'Better Faculty Citation Rankings System' (Sept 8, 2012)
- Sisk: The Phillips & Yoo Citations Rankings: Different, Not Better (Sept. 14, 2012)
- Leiter: Phillips & Yoo Citation Study Has Some Serious Problems (Sept. 14, 2012)
Update: Sports Law Blog, Foul Ball? New "Moneyball" Rankings of Most Relevant Law Professors
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Yoo presents this as a sort of Moneyball measure of academic influence. Rather than working from “impressionistic opinions about who is smart ...
Posted by: Don | Sep 16, 2012 10:10:48 PM