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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Can a school increase citation count?

Last month, Gregory Sisk and others updated for 2015 their study of scholarly impact by the top 1/3 of law faculties. They use Brian Leiter's methodology of counting total Westlaw citations by all tenured faculty, then apply a formula of (mean x 2) + (median) to get a weighted score.

So here is a question: Is there anything a law school can do, individually or institutionally, to improve its citation counts? (let's assume hiring a senior well-cited scholar is not an option) Is it just a matter of telling people "write more and place well," which means your stuff should get cited more? Is it about picking topics to write about, such that some topics are more likely to be cited in future works?  Are there publicity efforts that the school can support, such as supporting the mailing of reprints to authors in the area? Other things?

Posted by Howard Wasserman on October 21, 2015 at 09:31 AM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink


I've been in Sisk's report for a number of years now, but I can't say I do anything special. I do think that some specific post-publication promotion, coupled with good general self-promotion practices, can make a difference in increasing readership and visibility, which may have a modest indirect effect of increasing citations. Here are some specific practices:

1. Your communications office (if you have one--we have a great one at UC Hastings) can promote your just-published work via social media, postal mailings, email distributions, the alumni magazine, etc.

2. Upload the published version to SSRN to replace your draft. I think folks are more resistant to citing to unpublished works than to published works, so make it easier and more comfortable for authors to cite to you.

3. Keep your CV current, with individualized links to all of your published papers, to ease access to your work.

4. Self-promote just-published works on blogs. Or, perhaps, others will do it for you (like on Jotwell).

5. Reprints can't hurt, in whatever paper or electronic forms are most appropriate.

6. Sometimes, when I have read a draft paper in an area in which I write that I have liked but that I honestly think could benefit from some of my published work, I have written to the author a complimentary note with a friendly and non-pushy suggestion that some of my work might be useful as the author polishes the draft. Reactions to this approach have been appreciative (if somewhat embarrassing), something like, "Thanks! Don't know how I missed this paper." It always feels a little bold to take this approach, but my honest belief that I am trying to be helpful generally overcomes the feeling of shamelessness.

I'd be interested to hear other approaches.

Posted by: Scott Dodson | Oct 21, 2015 12:31:29 PM

Have the law review republish the "recent works by our faculty" column from the alumni magazine.

Posted by: James Grimmelmann | Oct 21, 2015 9:42:04 AM

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