Tuesday, August 17, 2021
Brian Leiter (Chicago), Citation Counts Vary By Field:
Since Professor Sisk and colleagues at the University of St. Thomas are putting the finishing touches on their study of scholarly impact for the period 2016-2020, I thought I'd call attention to an important fact about interpreting citation data: namely, that citation rates vary quite a bit by field. One can see all the subject-specific citation lists for the last Sisk study (2013-2017) here. Of the ten most-cited faculty in the U.S. in the last Sisk study, only one did not work at least in part in a public law area. Indeed, constitutional and public law are the most high-citation fields, although corporate, law & economics, criminal law & procedure, and intellectual property also get cited a lot. By contrast, tax, evidence, and legal ethics, among others, are low-citation fields. 300 cites in a five-year period will get you into the top five in tax, but not anywhere close to the top 20 in constitutional law (maybe the top 50?).
Here's the fields ranked from highest to lowest citations based on the sum of the cites for the scholar ranked #5 and #10 on the lists in the various specialties (those totals follow in parentheses):
1. Constitutional law (1480; 1205=2685) ...
19. Tax (300; 215=515)