Monday, March 19, 2007

Chris Fairman on SSRN rankings

Chris Fairman has given me permission to post this one for him:

The recent posts here by Ted Seto and Jeff Harrison have already highlighted many of the inherent problems with ranking systems—especially those based on SSRN download data. Trying to measure law faculty quality based on SSRN download statistics alone is unwise. Trying to rank law faculties based on SSRN downloads while selectively excluding some data, however, is unjustified. Brian Leiter’s latest rankings, however, do just that. His new Most Downloaded Law Faculties 2006 excludes a single author, me. I offer a number of reasons for what’s wrong with this methodology in an new essay—you guessed it—posted on SSRN. My colleagues at Ohio State, Doug Berman and Ruth Colker, also point out the problems with this exclusion in a post at Law School Innovation, “SSRN rankings and Leiter's (rank?) omission.” Over at Feminist Law Professors, Ann Bartow too has a post “Fuck, SSRN Rankings” (do note the important comma in the title) where she also takes him to task for the exclusion. While Leiter’s Law School Rankings have done much to help us all think about the criteria that should go into any ranking system, this latest addition and its selective exclusion is a step in the wrong direction.

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