Measuring Scholarly Impact: A Guide for Law School Administrators and Legal Scholars

Texas A&M, the public university for which I work, assesses its colleges and departments based partly on scholarly impact and using quantitative metrics. As part of my administrative duties, the law school’s dean has assigned me the task of identifying scholarly impact metrics for use in assessing the performance of our law faculty collectively and individually. This Essay discusses the major issues that arise in measuring the impact of legal scholarship. It explains important scholarly impact metrics, including the Leiter score and Google Scholar h‐index, and the major sources of information regarding scholarly impact, including Google Scholar, Westlaw, HeinOnline, SSRN, and bepress.

I intend for this Essay to serve as a guide for law deans and legal scholars interested in measuring the impact of legal scholarship. In addition, university administrators should find it helpful for comparing the impact of their own law faculty’s scholarship with the scholarship of law faculties at other universities. The primary obstacle to such comparisons is a dearth of publicly available information. To that end, the Essay recommends that each law school create a Google Scholar profile for its faculty and explains the procedure for doing so. By acting on this recommendation, administrators would dramatically improve our ability to assess the impact of legal scholarship. Moreover, a ranking of faculties by Google Scholar citation count would provide a much‐needed supplement to existing rankings schemes, including ranking schools based on U.S. News peer reputation score.

Part I of the Essay discusses citations, Part II discusses downloads, and Part III makes the case for widespread use of Google Scholar profiles.

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