Paul L. Caron

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Brophy on The Relationship Between Law Review Citations and Law School Rankings

Ssrn_logo_69 Abrohpy Alfred L. Brophy (Alabama) has posted The Relationship Between Law Review Citations and Law School Rankings on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Much recent scholarship has focused on the US News rankings and other ranking systems; other scholarship has focused on citations of law journals. This paper combines those two areas. It explores the connections between US News rankings (particularly the peer assessment scores) and citations of schools’ main law reviews by journals and by courts. There are high correlations between the US News peer assessment scores and citations of main law reviews by journals for the US News top 50 schools. For comparison purposes, the paper also looks to Brian Leiter’s rankings and finds a similar correlation. However, the strength of the correlations decrease for US News third and fourth tier schools. There is a weaker correlation between US News peer assessment scores and court citations across all US News tiers. The paper considers some of the implications of the correlations for law school rankings and suggests that, perhaps, future rankings should include citations as a factor in assessing the quality of law schools. One table illustrates how differently the third and fourth tiers of US News would look if law review citations were the basis for ranking law schools. A final table provides a ranking of law reviews based on journal citations.

Al blogs about the paper at Concurring Opinions:

[W]hat's the relationship between citations to law journals and the reputation of the school that publishes it?...

[I analyzed] the US News data for 2006 (which actually appeared in the spring of 2005) and the 2004 W&L Law Library citation data (which measures citations to works published from 1997 to 2004). There's a high correlation (.86) between citations and peer assessment scores for the US News top 50 schools. I also looked at Professor Brian Leiter's reputation survey, which I think represents a significant improvement methodologically over the US News data for the schools that he surveys.

Some interesting stuff here--there's a high correlation between Leiter's reputation scores and the US News peer assessment (.91) and journal citations (.83). But then things begin to get a little more surprising. For schools in the US News 52-102 range, the correlation is not nearly so high (.57). The correlation becomes even weaker when we consider journals at schools in the third and fourth tier (.41). The correlations are significantly weaker at each level between peer assessment and citations by courts: .66 for US News top 50 schools; .12 for US News 52-102 schools; .25 for US News tier 3 and 4 schools.

Here is a chart combining Tables 8 and 9 of the paper (at p. 22), showing the most undervalued and overvalued law reviews among the top 100 law reviews (based on journal citations):

Most Undervalued and Overvalued Law Reviews Among Top 100 Law Reviews

Most Undervalued

Most Overvalued

1. Albany

1. Utah

2. DePaul

2. Maryland

3. Hofstra

3. Florida

4. Indiana L. Rev.

4. Kentucky

5. South Texas

5. Washington & Lee

6. Chicago-Kent

6. George Mason

7. Marquette

7. Missouri

8. Cardozo

8. George Washington

9. Miami

9. Washington L. Rev.

10. Kansas

10. BYU

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I'll go with citations to blog posts. I'm sure Paul would agree.

After all, the value of a citation isn't its existence. It's citation times number of people reading it.

Blogs, Tax Mgmt portfolios, Tax Notes articles ... 10 of those outweighs 100 court decision cites ....

Posted by: Jim Maule | Dec 8, 2005 10:51:24 AM