Paul L. Caron

Friday, September 7, 2012

Phillips & Yoo: A Better Faculty Citation Rankings System

James Cleith Phillips & John Yoo (both of UC-Berkeley), The Cite Stuff: Inventing a Better Law Faculty Relevance Measure:

Citation rankings as a measure of scholarly quality are both controversial and popular. They provide a quantitative, albeit imperfect, measure of intellectual impact and productivity. But the number of times a scholar has been cited by his peers confers more than just bragging rights. They arguably help form the reputation of American legal scholars to the point that they have allegedly influenced faculty hiring decisions, and their collective impact may well shape the ranking of law schools themselves.

Arguably, the most well-known such metric for legal scholarship is the method used by Brian Leiter of the University of Chicago Law School and posted on his website. Despite the methodological rigorousness of the Leiter system, it suffers from some well-recognized limitations. It is biased in favor of schools with older, smaller faculties, for example, and against schools that do not produce as much peer-reviewed scholarship.

This study seeks to improve on earlier efforts by producing a more relevant and accurate citation-based ranking system. It produces a measure that explains 81% of the variation in the U.S. News academic peer rankings, implicitly revealing how schools could boost those rankings, and lists the most cited professors based on this new ranking methodology, both overall, amongst younger scholars, and in 20 areas of legal scholarship. This allows for the top school in each area of law to be calculated, which could be useful to aspiring J.D. students who desire to know the best school in the area(s) of law they are most interested in. Finally, this study proposes an alternative faculty ranking system focusing on the percentage of a law school faculty that are “All-Stars” (ranked in the top 10 in citations per year in an area of law). This alternative ranking system improves upon some of the weaknesses of previous faculty quality ranking methodologies and argues that citation-based studies do measure something important -- relevance of scholarship.

Here are the Top 10 Tax Professors in Total Cites Per Year:

  1. Alan Auerbach (UC-Berkeley) (54.3)
  2. Mihir Desai (Harvard) (54.0)
  3. James Hines (Michigan) (52.4)
  4. David Weisbach (Chicago) (45.4)
  5. Daniel Shaviro (NYU) (44.1)
  6. Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan) (40.9)
  7. Michael Graetz (Columbia) (36.2)
  8. Michael Knoll (Pennsylvania) (35.8)
  9. Robert Green (Cornell) (33.6)
  10. Thomas Brennan (Northwestern) (33.2)

Here are the Top 5 Law School Tax Faculties in Total Cites Per Year:

  1. Harvard (188.2) (Mihir Desai, Louis Kaplow)
  2. Michigan (93.3) (James Hines, Reuven Avi-Yonah)
  3. UC-Berkeley (54.3) (Alan Auerbach)
  4. Chicago (45.4) (David Weisbach)
  5. NYU (44.1) (Daniel Shaviro)

Law School Rankings, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Faculty Rankings, Tax Prof Rankings, Tax Rankings | Permalink


Isn't it interesting that these methods always prove that the best schools are those of the people doing the ranking?

Posted by: michael livingston | Sep 8, 2012 3:16:24 AM

Note that the coverage of the study is only "top 16" U.S. News schools.

Posted by: 50+ | Sep 7, 2012 7:21:44 AM