March 31, 2022

Ristroph v. Sklansky

Here and here.  I've not read enough of the work of either of these authors to have an opinion on the merits.

March 31, 2022 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

March 14, 2022

Top 15 Law Faculties in scholarly impact (2016-2020) based on their faculty under age 60, 2021

This is a complement to the original Sisk study of scholarly impact for the period 2016-2020.  As many readers have noted, the scholarly impact of many schools depends on their older faculty.  Using the Sisk data, we looked at the ten most-cited faculty under age 60 in 2021, calculating the weighted score the same way as in the original study:  the mean score times two, plus the median.  Some schools--Chicago, Harvard, NYU, Berkeley, Michigan--performed comparably (or slightly better, or slightly worse) in this study as in the original study of all tenured faculty, regardless of age.  But other schools under-performed--for example, Yale and Stanford--suggesting that their "scholarly impact" performance depends heavily on an "old guard," as it were.  Some other schools outperformed their overall rank noticeably--UCLA and Virginia, for example--suggesting they are going to be likely recruitment targets for other law schools.

Time permitting, we'll try to expand this beyond the top 15.

Full results below the fold:

Continue reading

March 14, 2022 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

March 07, 2022

"Web of Science" may record "impact" in some disciplines, but not necessarily *inter*disciplinary impact

Kevin Gerson, the Director of the law library at UCLA, writes:

You’ve noted several issues with the Vanderbilt scholarly impact study. I’d like to add to the list another issue with interdisciplinary scholarly impact studies.

A non-law article written by someone currently on a law faculty may not, by those facts alone, be widely regarded as “interdisciplinary” with law. Take, for example, this article: The 1000 Genomes Project Consortium, A map of human genome variation from population-scale sequencing, Nature 467, 1061–1073 (2010), This article is purely computational genomics. It has had no impact on legal scholarship, yet one of its scientist/authors currently sits on a law school faculty. The article in Web of Science shows over 5300 citations, which would make that particular author one of the most cited legal scholars of all time if the article is included in measuring legal scholarly impact. The irony is that the other 400+ authors of that article would also be considered among the most impactful legal scholars of all time by virtue of that single article as long as they could get a joint appointment on a law faculty. That seems like an undesirable outcome.

March 7, 2022 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

March 03, 2022

The Vanderbilt study of "scholarly impact" based on the Web of Science database

One thing this study is not is a study of "interdisciplinary impact," for three reasons:  (1) the Web of Science has better coverage of some disciplines than others; (2) citation practices vary dramatically across disciplines; and (3) the study only looked at articles published in Web of Science journals that were published and cited during 2012-2018 (books, the major form of scholarly impact in most humanities disciplines, counted for nought here).   The weird skew should be obvious from the fact that the two most-cited scholars (Lawrence Gostin at Georgetown and Susan M. Wolf at Minnesota) both work in health law and bioethics:  that's either because medical and medicine-related journals are wildly overrepresented in the database (which looks to be true), or because much more of the scholarly literature is based on articles that were cited by other articles during that period.  (Four of the top ten faculty on their list work in or around health law--indeed, health law and bioethics faculty are wildly over-represented in the top fifty.)

Professor Gostin, helpfully, has a Google Scholar page, and he does indeed have a lot of citations (more than 36,000!).  My colleague, the philosopher Martha Nussbaum, who publishes many books as well as articles, largely in philosophy and classics journals (which are not well-represented in Web of Science), does not have a Google Scholar page, but you can get a sense of her Google Scholar citations here.  Her first ten most cited works have over 60,000 citations:  that's just the first ten.   I haven't tallied all her citations, but I looked at several pages of her Google Scholar results, and I can say with some confidence that she has at least four times as many citations as Professor Gostin.  Yet Nussbaum is not even in the top 50 in the Vanderbilt study!

All citation studies have limitations due to their database.  But Web of Science is wholly inadequate for measuring interdisciplinary impact, as the stunning Nussbuam example reveals.   I would describe this as more a measure of impact for those who work in fields adjacent to the medical sciences, including health law, bioethics, psychology, etc.

March 3, 2022 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

Penn student organizations calls for "immediate" firing of Professor Wax

Ironically, resolutions like this will be fodder for a lawsuit by Professor Wax if Penn does breach its contractual commitment to academic freedom (including freedom of extramural speech) by firing her.  (See the earlier letter to Penn from the Academic Freedom Alliance.)

March 3, 2022 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

February 24, 2022

Law professors on academic freedom

Paul Butler and David Cole (both Georgetown) disagree about its application, while Anita Allen (Penn) rejects the AAUP understanding.  My own views here:  Download Why Academic Freedom PDF published version

February 24, 2022 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

February 18, 2022

Chicago Tribune article on the case of UIC lawprof Jason Kilborn

Here, which correctly notes that the allegations against him were bogus.  Professor Kilborn has also filed an amended complaint in his lawsuit:  Download Kilborn Amended Complaint

February 18, 2022 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

January 27, 2022

Prof. Jason Kilborn (UIC John Marshall Law) files suit against various UIC officials...

...over the ongoing violations of his constutional rights, which we have noted previously.  The complaint is here:  Download Kilborn Complaint as filed.  The exhibits attached to the complaint are here:  Download Kilborn Exhibits as filed

January 27, 2022 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

January 26, 2022

Allegations of misconduct by Amy Wax in the classroom and towards students

The kind of conduct described here enjoys no protection from AAUP academic freedom principles, unlike offensive extramural speech.  If these allegations are confirmed, Professor Wax may be in real trouble this time.

January 26, 2022 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink

January 18, 2022

Penn Law to move forward with faculty process for sanction of a tenured faculty member in Amy Wax case

Ted Ruger, the Penn Dean, sent out this letter today (and several readers shared it with me):

From: Dean's Office <>
Sent: Tuesday, January 18, 2022 12:10 PM
Subject: A Message from Dean Ruger

Dear Law School students, faculty, and staff,

Since at least 2017, and most recently again two weeks ago, Professor Amy Wax has repeatedly made derogatory public statements about the characteristics, attitudes, and abilities of a majority of those who study, teach, and work here. In some of those instances, she has exploited her faculty access to confidential information about students in ostensible support of her inaccurate statements.


Her conduct has generated multiple complaints from members of our community citing the impact of pervasive and recurring vitriol and promotion of white supremacy as cumulative and increasing. The complaints assert that it is impossible for students to take classes from her without a reasonable belief that they are being treated with discriminatory animus. These complaints clearly call for a process that can fairly consider claims, for example, that her conduct is having an adverse and discernable impact on her teaching and classroom activities.


Taking her public behavior, prior complaints, and more recent complaints together, I have decided it is my responsibility as Dean to initiate the University procedure governing sanctions taken against a faculty member.  As I have already discussed with Faculty Senate leadership, I am aggregating the complaints received to date, together with other information available to me, and will serve as the named complainant for these matters.  This process is necessarily thorough and deliberate, but using it allows consideration of the range of minor and major sanctions permissible under the University’s rules.


As this process takes place, my colleagues and I will continue the daily work of the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School in training and supporting brilliant attorneys from the broadest possible range of backgrounds, ensuring equitable treatment in the classroom and throughout our institution.


Ted Ruger

A few thoughts below the fold.

Continue reading

January 18, 2022 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest | Permalink