Paul L. Caron

Friday, February 15, 2019

More Coverage Of The U.S. News Law Faculty Scholarly Impact Rankings

U.S. News Law (2019)Following up on my previous posts:, U.S. News to Launch New Way to Rank Law Schools:

University of St. Thomas School of Law professor Gregory Sisk ... said on Wednesday that U.S. News’ entrance into the scholarly impact picture is evidence that citations are a useful measure of law faculty performance and law school quality. But he cautioned that many of the details of how the ranking will be compiled are unclear. “As with any such project, the proof will be in the pudding,” Sisk said. “We may not know for a couple of years how it is coming together, how it relates to the general U.S. News ranking system, and whether the approach and results are reliable.” ...

Pepperdine University Law Dean Paul Caron, who closely follows the U.S. News rankings on his TaxProf Blog, said Thursday that he thinks the publication’s push to evaluate the scholarly impact of law faculties is a positive development. Tracking citations isn’t a perfect method, but it’s the best objective way to measure legal scholarship, he said.

“The simple fact is that law schools vigorously compete to hire the best faculty, and research is far and away the most important determinant,” Caron said. “Prospective law students properly care very much about a law school’s reputation, so it make sense for U.S. News to rank law schools on this objective measure.”

Brian Leiter (Chicago), to Start "Scholarly Impact" Rankings:

knows it has been repeatedly burned by misleading self-reporting by schools that it never carefully audits, so switching to non-manipulable metrics no doubt seems preferable. And since their academic reputation surveys are now just echo chambers of recent overall rankings, adding in an impact/productivity component would be a slight corrective to that. ...

Schools that have their clinical faculty on the tenure-stream, even if there are not publication expectations, may be in particular trouble here. Sisk's policy, which was mine, was to exclude clinical faculty, since at many schools, even those where they have tenure, their responsibilties do not include scholarship. But is asking for all tenured and tenure-track faculty, regardless of primary role or function.

Brian Leiter (Chicago), Plans to Include ALL Tenure-Stream Faculty in its Impact and Productivity Study


Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink


Mike is right here; all USNWR rankings exemplify Goodhart's Law and this will be no different.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Feb 16, 2019 8:07:32 PM

Initially citation-counting seems more objective than a reputation survey.

But wouldn't it push school law reviews even further into the "link farming" and "content farming" search engines wised up to years ago?

Better to target "outside" attention somehow.

Posted by: Anand Desai | Feb 16, 2019 9:38:55 AM

What will happen is that schools will begin to manipulate these data as they do other things. How many people have cited or downloaded your articles? Can you get your friends at other schools to do so? What about people here, have you cited each other? It's not going to end well.

Posted by: Mike Livingston | Feb 16, 2019 3:08:47 AM