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August 16, 2012

More on OUP Journals and Westlaw

I see Dan Filler, independently, picked up the story about the removal of most OUP journals from Westlaw.  As it happens, I was corresponding with Rhodri Jackson at OUP about this issue, and was invited to share the following information and explanation:

The central fact of Daniel Sokol's piece, that we have pulled some journals from Westlaw, is correct. This happened as of August 1, 2012, and was announced here:


There are some things we would correct or add to in Daniel's post. Firstly, European Journal of International Law, Reports of Patent, Design and Trade Mark Cases, and Industrial Law Journal remain in Westlaw.

Secondly, many of the journals Daniel lists were never in Westlaw in the first place, and many are not in Westlaw OR Lexis now. I’ve listed the actual titles removed from Westlaw at the bottom of this email. All our titles remain in the LJI (Legal Journals Index).

Thirdly, re the W&L rankings, whilst Daniel is correct that the W&L rankings are based on Westlaw, it is unlikely removal from Westlaw will have any discernible impact on a journal’s ranking. Citations to journals are pulled from Westlaw – so OUP journals would only fall in those rankings if they received a significant proportion of their citations from one of the removed titles. W&L will still pull citations to OUP journals in other publications in Westlaw’s databases.

More generally, it’s never quite as straightforward as us taking a decision that affects all our journals. We have standard policies but the final decision on appropriate licensing is taken on a journal by journal basis.

Hopefully that helps clarify. As to why - we took the decision to take journals out of Westlaw because we have agreed a preferred licensing partnership deal with Lexis Nexis. We continually evaluate which services are the best fit for our titles, and at present Lexis’ global reach and commitment to working with us to disseminate our content (including new journals) stands out. Usage of the journals within Westlaw was very low, and runs somewhat counter to the dire warnings regarding discoverability which Daniel makes.

We’re very keen to ensure that all our journals are discoverable and citable, and we do appreciate that some scholars and practitioners use Westlaw and the JLR. We are working with Lexis to make our journals as visible and easy to find within their database as possible. It’s also worth noting that the primary method of delivery for all our journals is of course through our own site http://www.oxfordjournals.org/subject/law/index.html. We have licensing agreements with multiple providers including Lexis, Westlaw, Hein, and EBSCO, but usage of the journals at all of those venues is dwarfed by that at Oxford.

I hope that helps clarify, but if you have follow up questions we'll be happy to answer

Titles Removed from Westlaw as of 1 August 2012

British Journal of Criminology

Human Rights Law Review

International Journal of Constitutional Law

International Journal of Law and
Information Technology

International Journal of Law, Policy and
the Family

International Journal of Refugee Law

Journal of Competition Law & Economics

Journal of Conflict and Security Law

Journal of Environmental Law

Journal of International Criminal Justice

Journal of International Dispute Settlement

Journal of International Economic Law

Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization

Journal of Refugee Studies

Law, Probability and Risk

Medical Law Review

Oxford Journal of Legal Studies

Statute Law Review 

This is useful information, and it's certainly right that the effect on any kind of "citation" rankings will be minimal.  On the other hand, this move is not without costs for US-based legal scholars, who overwhelmingly do their research on-line and some of whom (I'm one of them) never use Lexis anymore (I don't even know my Lexis password, it's been so many years!).  Scholarship that isn't in the Westlaw database is going to be missed by some non-trivial number of researchers.  That's unfortunate indeed, and may well give some pause about submitting to these journals.  (As a sidenote, the W&L journal rankings are pretty worthless, I'm surprised to learn anyone is looking at them.)

Thoughts from readers?  Comments must have a full name in the signature line and a valid e-mail address, or they won't see the light of day.

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 16, 2012 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Law in Cyberspace, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Rankings | Permalink | Comments (5)

OUP Journals Dump Westlaw

Danny Sokol reports on this news.  This will have some (limited) implications for citation counts generated using Westlaw.  On the other hand, Oxford University Press journals will still be available on Lexis - and notwithstanding concerns from  Paul Horwitz over at Prawfs, it's really pretty simple to search there too.  Compared to the effort required in many other disciplines - to say nothing of research in the stone age of the 1980's and earlier - this is a minor annoyance.  Apparently, Westlaw doesn't think OUP journals are worth the money. If this gives Lexis a crucial edge...I say, kudos to Lexis.

Posted by Dan Filler on August 16, 2012 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink

August 15, 2012

Penn State Receives Accreditation Warning From Middle States

We learned yesterday that, on August 6, the Executive Committee of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education acted "to warn the institution [Penn State] that its accreditation is in jeopardy based on information contained in the institutionally commissioned Report of the Special Investigative Counsel."  Although it seems utterly unimaginable that Middle States will actually strip Penn State's accreditation, this is very serious business - since the school would then become ineligible for federal research or student aid money.  

The letter from Middle States is here.

Posted by Dan Filler on August 15, 2012 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink

August 14, 2012

More on the Saint Louis Decanal Crisis

It even made it to the pages of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, and includes a striking comment from Interim Dean Keefe: 

"One of the biggest problems is this ridiculous concern from law schools about how they've been rated by U.S. News and World Report," he said. "Since when has a weekly news magazine become the Quran of law schools?"

There's an answer, of course:  namely, that newspapers and even local TV stations report movements in the rankings as though they are news, with the result that prospective students and alumni then assume that the rankings mean something.  One can agree with the Interim Dean that this is a crazy state of affairs, but even he should note that stories about this crisis mention the U.S. News ranking as pertinent "information."  Interim Dean Keefe does have the advantage that if the law school's rank declines further, he'll be back in full-time practice.  But his successor will have to live with the consequences.

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 14, 2012 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

August 13, 2012

Why Tolerate Religion?

The Facebook page, courtesy of PUP (!).  The book will be out in early October.

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 13, 2012 in Jurisprudence | Permalink

August 10, 2012

SLU, Another Update--the Faculty Perspective

A faculty member at SLU writes:  "The theme of yesterday's emergency faculty meeting was one of sadness and dispiritment, especially as we learned how [University President] Biondi's theft of funds from the Law School (including perhaps a noted alum's estate-gift to the Law School) will impact the funding of student activities in this year and years forward.  For example, it looks like there may not be funds available for student travel (e.g. moot court), student-coordinated and student-oriented legal conferences, and also the research activities of our very strong faculty."

The more I hear, the more it seems Biondi is another Silber, i.e., an autocrat, but with even less of a sense of academic values than Silber had.

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 10, 2012 in Faculty News, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

Declining Enrollments and Credentials at Law Schools

A very useful (and sobering) analysis of what's been going on since 2010; some excerpts:

ENROLLMENT IN DECLINE – Between 2010 and 2011, 141 law schools had a decline in enrollment (of which 63 had a decline of 10% or more), 30 had an increase in enrollment (of which 6 had an increase of 10% or more), and 26 had flat enrollment (within +/- 1% of 2010 enrollment).  This means over 70% of schools had a decline in enrollment and that nearly one-third had a decline in enrollment of 10% or more....

ENROLLMENT AND PROFILES IN DECLINE – Most significantly, 75 schools (roughly 38%) saw declines in enrollment and in their LSAT/GPA profiles, of which 37 schools saw declines in enrollment of greater than 10% and saw declines in their LSAT/GPA profiles....Four of the schools are ranked in the top-50, while the other 33 schools are relatively evenly divided between the second-50, the third-45 and the alphabetical schools....

FORECAST FOR 2012-- Given that LSAC has estimated a decline of roughly 14.4% in the number of applicants for fall 2012, from 78500 to roughly 67000, and given that the decline has been greatest among those with higher LSAT scores, one should anticipate further declines in enrollment and further erosion of entering class LSAT/GPA profiles for fall 2012....

IMPACT FELT ACROSS THE RANKINGS CONTINUUM, BUT WORSE FOR LOWER-RANKED SCHOOLS...-Among the top 100 schools, 55 schools (over one-half) had a decline in profile, while 67 (two-thirds) had a decline in enrollment, with 27 experiencing a decline in enrollment of 10% or more....Overall enrollment was down roughly 6%.

Across the bottom 97 schools then, 56 saw a decline in profile while 74 (more than three-quarters) saw a decline in enrollment, of which 36 (nearly 40%) saw a decline in enrollment of 10% or more.  Notably 40 schools saw a decline in enrollment and a decline in profile, of which 22 saw a decline in enrollment of 10% or more and a decline in profile.  Overall, enrollment was down nearly 10%.

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 10, 2012 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Rankings, Student Advice | Permalink

Name Your Favorite Indy Bookstore!

I'm trying to create a useful list of the best independent bookstores in America here.  Who better than a bunch of law professors to offer up great suggestions?  

Posted by Dan Filler on August 10, 2012 | Permalink

August 9, 2012

More on the crisis at SLU

A faculty member there writes:  "We're going into an emergency faculty meeting today, and don't know what the result will be, but here's the latest,including the new 'dean's' insults towards our outgoing dean (who was beloved and admired by many)."  The link suggests that the President had planned to fire the outgoing Dean.  The new Interim Dean, a practitioner, self-describes himself as "nuttier than a fruitcake."  A natural choice!

UPDATE:  A reader writes:

You missed the new dean's key qualification:  "Keefe, a 1978 graduate of the law school, and a personal injury attorney in Belleville, Ill. says it's 'not in his DNA' to say no to a Jesuit priest."  Sounds like the President got his perfect candidate.

ANOTHER:  This story gets worse, and in a way that suggests the University President is, indeed, the source of the problem.  This article reports that the President has chosen not only a non-academic "yes man' to be Interim Dean, a man who self-describes as a "nut," but one who plans to keep practicing law--in other words, he will be a part-time Interim Dean.  SLU, as faculty will know, has done a lot of good hiring the last few years, and I expect a lot of the younger faculty, as well as the well-known senior faculty, will be heading out the door.  This actually seems worse than the DePaul situation of a couple of years ago.   About the only thing that may save SLU at this point is the tight market for faculty hires due to the general economic situation.  Even so....

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 9, 2012 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

August 8, 2012

SLU Law Dean Resigns Abruptly

Her resignation letter is here, and if the allegations are accurate, then SLU will be hard-pressed to find a new Dean, at least with the current President and Provost in place.  What an embarrassment for SLU!

(Thanks to Sam Bagenstos for the pointer.)

UPDATE:  Dean Clark's letter to faculty and staff, which has even more appalling details.  The SLU Administration is starting to make their DePaul counterparts look like skilled professionals!

ANOTHER:  The University President, Father Biondi, has led the institution for 25 years!  That suggests either that (1) there is more to this story, or (2) he has the Board of Trustees in his pocket (much as the incompetent John Silber did during his years wrecking BU).

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 8, 2012 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest | Permalink