Paul L. Caron
Dean


Monday, November 11, 2019

Heald & Sichelman: The Top 100 Law School Faculties In Citations (Hein) And Impact (SSRN Downloads)

Paul J. Heald (Illinois) & Ted M. Sichelman (San Diego), Ranking the Academic Impact of 100 American Law Schools, 60 Jurimetrics J. ___ (2019):

U.S. News & World Report and rankings-minded scholars have constructed several measures of faculty impact at U.S. law schools, but each has been limited in a variety of ways. For instance, the U.S. News “peer assessment” rankings rely on the qualitative opinions of a small group of professors and administrators and largely mirror the overall rankings (correlations of 0.96 in 2016). While the scholarly rankings improve upon U.S. News by using the quantitative measure of citation counts, they have relied on the Westlaw database, which has notable limitations. Additionally, these rankings have failed to capture the component of scholarly impact on the broader legal community. We overcome these limitations by offering citation-based rankings using the more comprehensive Hein database and impact rankings based on Social Science Research Network (SSRN) download counts, as well as a combination of the two metrics.

Notably, we find a high correlation with the previous scholarly rankings (about 0.88), but a significantly lower correlation with the U.S. News peer assessment rankings (about 0.63). Specifically, we find that many law schools in dense urban areas with large numbers of other law schools that are highly ranked in the U.S. News survey are underrated in the U.S. News peer assessment rankings relative to our faculty impact metrics. Given the relatively low correlation between our rankings and the U.S. News peer assessment rankings—and the fact the U.S. News peer assessment rankings largely track its overall rankings—we strongly support U.S. News’s plans to rank schools on the basis of citation counts and recommend that U.S. News adopt a quantitative-based metric as a faculty reputation component of its overall rankings. ...

Here, pursuant to our suggested weighting discussed earlier, we combine the SSRN and Hein scores equally. Because SSRN download counts are substantially higher than Hein citation counts, we determine the number of standard deviations (z-score) from each school’s score from the mean for that metric, then average the SSRN and Hein z-scores together for a final score.

Table 3. Ranking by SSRN Download and Hein Citation Metrics

Combined Ranking

School

Total SSRN Score

Hein Total Score

SSRN Z-score

Hein
Z-score

Average
Z-score

1

Yale

18,753

 5223

2.56

5.25

3.91

2

Harvard

23,608

 3856

3.60

3.53

3.56

3

Columbia

17,820

 3075

2.36

2.55

2.45

4

Chicago

19,103

 2414

2.64

1.71

2.17

5

Vanderbilt

21,124

 1995

3.07

1.19

2.13

6

Penn

18,340

 2364

2.47

1.65

2.06

7

NYU

12,569

 3114

1.24

2.60

1.92

8

Stanford

11,336

 2837

0.97

2.25

1.61

9

UC-Irvine

15,786

 2027

1.93

1.23

1.58

10

Duke

12,194

 2029

1.16

1.23

1.19

11

GW

14,037

 1617

1.55

0.71

1.13

12

Northwestern

11,648

 1939

1.04

1.12

1.08

13

Cornell

10,942

 1970

0.89

1.15

1.02

14

UCLA

11,956

 1782

1.11

0.92

1.01

15

G. Mason

15,120

 1150

1.78

0.12

0.95

16

Georgetown

9906

 1758

0.67

0.89

0.78

17

Virginia

9325

 1702

0.54

0.82

0.68

18

UC-Berkeley

9781

 1609

0.64

0.70

0.67

19

Michigan

10,305

 1519

0.75

0.59

0.67

20

Minnesota

10,315

 1462

0.75

0.52

0.63

21

St. Thomas

11,487

 1155

1.00

0.13

0.57

22

Illinois

10,927

 1159

0.88

0.13

0.51

23

Texas

6611

 1873

-0.04

1.03

0.50

24

UC-Davis

10,805

 1098

0.86

0.06

0.46

25

Arizona

9696

 1058

0.62

0.01

0.31

Citations-based rankings of law schools have become increasingly prominent in recent years. This trend has perhaps culminated with U.S. News & World Report’s recent announcement that it will construct a similar ranking, which very likely will become a definitive quantitative measure of law school faculty impact. Our study provides notable insight into the value and potential pitfalls of such a ranking, generally offering an optimistic outlook—at least to the extent one is convinced that quantitative rankings of faculty impact are valuable to the scholarly endeavor. Moreover, we show that mere publication downloads, particularly by those beyond legal academia, can be used effectively to rank faculties, and somewhat surprisingly, these rankings largely mirror those solely constructed with citations. Although we expect more sophisticated and comprehensive quantitative approaches to ranking law school faculties to appear soon, we hope we have shown that even our comparatively crude measure provides many advantages beyond the qualitative surveys that have been pervasive in legal academia

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2019/11/heald-sichelman-the-top-100-law-school-faculties-in-citations-hein-and-impact-ssrn-downloads.html

Law School Rankings, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

Comments

Wasn't there an assistant prof up for tenure at a top-14 law school, who begged his friends to download his papers, in order to drive up the SSRN download number? Who also assigned his own papers to his Con Law class, thus forcing the students to download them from SSRN? He then did get tenure...

Posted by: Andy Patterson | Nov 11, 2019 10:19:20 AM

I really think it is inexcusable that they do not include law faculty citations in non-law journals as well. It is very easy to incorporate such data. See Total Scholarly Impact: Law Professor Citations in Non-Law Journals, https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2019/09/extending-leiter-sisk-citation-counts-to-interdisciplinary-scholarship.html

Posted by: Al Arbabi | Nov 11, 2019 11:55:29 AM