Thursday, March 7, 2019

Attention Bob Morse: this is quite important in using Hein for a scholarly impact study (UPDATED--SEE BELOW, IMPORTANT!)

The point is due to Robert Anderson (Pepperdine):  "[T]o the extent that interdisciplinary work has an impact in law, it will be cited in law reviews and therefore captured in the ranking. Some of the papers most often cited in law reviews were published in economics or finance journals (Jensen and Meckling, Coase). The key here is ensuring that Hein and US News take into account citations TO interdisciplinary work FROM law reviews, not just citations TO law reviews FROM law reviews as it appears they might do. That would be too narrow. Sisk currently captures these interdisciplinary citations FROM law reviews, and it is important for Hein to do the same. The same applies to books."

It's not yet clear how they will utilize the Hein database.  When I search my own name in the law library journal, I get a much higher count than I do with Westlaw, because Hein actually has a much larger number of foreign law journals than Westlaw.  And I find citations to scholarship that did not appear in law journals as well, including books.  But maybe that isn't how it's going to be done?

UPDATE:  Kevin Gerson, Director of the Law Library at UCLA, writes with extremely helpful (but also alarming) information:

I’ve been reading with interest your posts and thoughts on the new US News scholarly impact ranking (along with all of your other posts). From the information we have available so far, I think it’s pretty clear how US News will make use of the Hein database. Two years ago, with Hein’s help, I set up UCLA Law faculty author profile pages within HeinOnline. In order to create those pages, Hein sent me an information request by way of an Excel spreadsheet that included about a dozen informational columns to be filled out. The columns included such things as Known Name Variations, Affiliation Website Link, and Author E-mail Address. The tell is that when US News made their information request of law schools in mid-February, they sent a nearly identical information request by way of the same Excel spreadsheet that also included a Known Name Variations column. What this means is that US News is having Hein create the very same author profile pages that I (and others) had created for their schools. Those author pages include: (1) journal article citations to the author’s articles that are contained in Hein but only if those citations are made by other articles also contained in Hein and only if those citing articles use a recognized citation abbreviation, such as the Bluebook; and (2) case citations to the author’s articles that are contained in Hein but only if those citations are made by cases available in HeinOnline or Fastcase. Citations to books will not be included. Nor will citations to journals not contained in Hein. By using this method, US News has designed a purely automated way to calculate “impact.”

When you searched for yourself in the HeinOnline Law Journal library, you were conducting a different search than the one used to create author pages. You were thus able to pull up references to books not contained in Hein. Try instead searching in the Law Journal Library (under the advanced search) for yourself using the Author/Creator field. The results you see there, along with the citation counts, are what form the basis of your Hein faculty author page, and that is what will be used for the US News metric, IMO. The only unknown is how US News will combine that impact metric with a “productivity” metric during the same period.

If Mr. Gersen is correct about what U.S. News is planning on doing, then their impact study will be garbage, since law review citations to work in other law reviews is only a small part of the landscape of scholarship and impact, as Professor Anderson noted.  Yes it is more work to search names, as Sisk and colleagues too, but it is far more complete and meaningful then what appears to be in the offing.

Rankings | Permalink