Thanks, everyone, for weighing in on my questions about SSRN "top 10 downloads" lists. Two of the comments were so good that I want to recap them here:
Here is an SSRN Top Downloads story: A friend accidentally gave his article a fairly obscure label. Soon he got a congratulatory e-mail notifying him his article was one of the Top Ten Downloads from a certain legal subject area. He had, it turned out, accomplished this with ONE download, the very download he himself undertook to verify that the article had been successfully uploaded.
As regards your SSRN inquiry, I've noted that my school, UC Davis, has just begun publicizing the "top 10 downloads." As Ann Bartow's story demonstrates, however, the list is not particularly meaningful. Certain subject areas may have very small readerships. I do not list my own "top 10 downloads" on my c.v. I believe that traditional indicators of influence--e.g., citation in a legal decision, excerpting in a casebook, anthologizing in a book--are more revealing.Thanks, Ann & Anupam! Your posts demonstrate that there's no easy way to measure the effect of someone's scholarship on the field. Instead, we'd have to do much more intensive searches, in part because people use a variety of different ways to circulate their work (articles, books, chapters, blogs, etc.).
And now, two new questions:
(1) Has anyone come up with an easy way to do the more intensive type of search for how and where one's work is cited? It's easy to check for citations in articles and cases, but what about checking for citations in books, chapters, blogs, and other types of publications?
(2) How do we then account for what the late, lamented (at least by me) Spy magazine used to call "Logrolling in Our Time"?