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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

SSRN v. Google

Joelle's post on the demographics of SSRN's top-100 list hopefully made readers aware of some of the structural problems with SSRN's tournament of scholars. Nevertheless, like all such ranking systems, it may create its own reality.

But SSRN downloads are a weird  proxy for scholarly reputation/influence.  For law profs, citation in law journals is a better measure -- the one that is sometimes used in tenure review.   (Personally,  my top downloaded article (here) has been cited significantly less than others on the list.) I'm sure this isn't an uncommon experience.

To think about the problem of influence more concretely, I turned (as always) to Google.  I'd bet that google does a much better job of capturing citation and influence than SSRN.  Just to take a brief example, the top four SSRN law articles are:

  1. Multiple Victim Public Shootings... (Lott and Landes) (42, 687 d/ls)
  2. Theory of the Firm: Managerial Behavior... (Jensen and Meckling) (24,225 d/ls)
  3. The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime (Donohue and Levitt) (13,053 d/ls)
  4. Separation of Ownership and Control (Fama and Jensen) (9,703 d/ls)

But, when I googled the list, the ordering was quite different:

        1.   Theory of the Firm (Jensen and Meckling) (8040 hits)
        2.  Separation of Ownership and Control (Fama and Jensen) (6640 hits)
        3.  Impact of Legalized Abortion (Donohue and Levitt) (842 hits)
        4.  Multiple Victim Public Shootings (Lott, Landes) (637 hits)

Now, I realize that with different search runs on google you get different results, but these seemed robust to me on several attempts.

Interesting!  And, just for kicks, I also googled some other famous law review articles, taken from this blawg's discussion of that weighty topic:

  • Problem of Social Cost (Coase) (19,000 hits)
  • One View of the Cathedral (Calebresi and Melamed) (656 hits)
  • The New Property (Reich) (533 hits)
  • Toward Neutral Principles of  Constitutional Law (Wechsler) (321)

Posted by Dave Hoffman on June 8, 2005 at 05:05 PM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink


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