Thursday, October 05, 2006

Measuring Empirical and "Law and" Scholarship Quantitively

Over at ELS, Tracey George has been talking about her important work to measure which schools are the most empirically oriented. (This is version 2.0 of what George calls that "2006 ELS Ranking." I propose they should be known in the trade as the "George Rankings"; you may recall reading version 1.0 last fall, when everyone downloaded it from ssrn. Version 1.0 was published in the most recent volume of the Indiana Law Journal--along, I might add, with an essay that responds to Posner's and Vermeule's article on reparations.)

Pretty interesting methodology--measuring the percentage of faculty at each school with PhDs in social sciences; measuring the percentage of faculty at each school with a secondary appointment in a social science discipline; and measuring per capita articles in the westlaw jlr file that each faculty has produced (since 1996) using the search term "statistic! /1 significan!". As I say, pretty interesting.

George's methodology reminds me of Daniel Klerman's article in the University of Illinois Law Review back in 2002 that chastized legal historians for not employing enough quantitative methods. Klerman measured legal history articles that used correlations (not statistical significance, which I think is a little more inclusive). Klerman also measured citations to economic historians like Robert Fogel, Douglas North, and Richard Posner.

George's findings are pretty interesting, too. Of course I'm interested in how these rankings stack up against US News. Below is a scatterplot of the George rankings against the schools' US News peer assessment scores. (The correlations for US News peer assessment and the ELS ranks: Pearson r = -.62, rho = -.64. The correlations are significant at p < .0001.) Here's a table that compares the George rankings and the US News peer assessment rankings of each of George's top fifty schools.


Next steps?
This raises a couple of possibilites: should we try to measure the humanity-ness of law faculties as well? And if so, how would we do so? (Obviously, we could look to joint appointments with literature, philosophy, and maybe history departments and literature, comparative lit, philosophy, and maybe history phds. I think history phds are best fit in the social science box, but I suppose some lean more to humanities and others lean more to social science.) What about ways of measuring via westlaw studies? Not so easily designed as looking for references to "statistical significance" or correlation coefficients.

I would also be interested in a quantitative measure of faculties based on "race and law" (or critical race if you prefer). Couple of thoughts here: measure the number of articles that cite Derrick Bell, Richard Delgado, Lani Guinier, Cheryl Harris, Randall Kennedy, Charles Lawrence, Mari Matsuda, and/or Charles Ogletree (or we might expand that list some, to include some more recent entrants). Or maybe measure the articles that reference "critical race." (All of these would, of course, be both under and over-inclusive.)

In fact, this opens up all sorts of possibilities, like measuring faculties based on critical legal studies or feministic legal thought....

Alfred L. Brophy

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