Friday, January 19, 2007

Figuring out SSRN downloads--and some questions for everyone

There's been a lot of recent blogging going on regarding the rankings (see, e.g., MoneyLaw's recent posts here (Jeff Harrison), here (Al Brophy, also mentioning Brian Leiter's and Anthony Ciolli's links to the Boalt Hall law student's study on which members of the tenured faculty there are publishing articles), here (Paul Caron), and here (my own post about the "joy" of being a poster child in the anti-USNWR rankings fight); see also Paul Caron's post over at the TaxProf Blog about the National Jurist's lead story on the rankings).

Here's a related question, as law schools search for new ways to tout faculty scholarship (preferably at low cost): Does your school tout instances of SSRN notification of "top 10 download paper" status? I know that UHLC used to do that (Doug Moll & Jacqueline Weaver each received notices like this), but I don't know what other schools do. Is this something that your school (1) keeps track of & (2) publicizes (a) to internal (law school & university) audiences or (b) to external audiences? Do any of you mention receiving this type of notice on your CVs? Would it matter to you if you received info about "top 10 downloads" from other schools? (And would it change your opinion of those schools, either for better or for worse?)

Thanks--looking forward to hearing from you!


Anonymous said...

Mark McCormack offered similar, well reasoned observations about the role of a Dean or University President, either in his newsletter or one or more of his books.

As for the first university having been founded by several entrepreneurial professors---what has that got to do with higher education in America today, especially when tenure rather than entrepreneurialism rules the day. Dale Carnegie started teaching on a commission basis at a YMCA, but I have never seen, meet, or heard a law school faculty member who could "sell tickets."

Unknown said...

Thanks for your post--actually, I know several law professors who could easily "sell tickets." I had some of them when I was a student, and I've seen others in action.

Of course, what I value in a law professor's teaching is not always what the students themselves value. I think we all value people who make the material engaging. I've seen student evaluations of some professors, though, that confuse the rather Kingsfieldian model of distain for students with rigor. I've seen rigor in all sorts of styles of teaching, and I've seen pure Socratic teaching with no rigor at all. Why is it that we ask students on evaluations how the class compares to other law school classes when, unless a student has transferred, he or she doesn't have a good basis for comparison?

Mary L. Dudziak said...

Just found your new blog via the Feminist Law Professors blog/Law Blog Central, and wanted to say welcome from the Legal History Blog!

For comments on rankings (SSRN & others) over at the Legal History Blog, here are a couple of links: and
Best wishes,
Mary Dudziak

Unknown said...

Thanks so much, Mary, and I'll look those two posts up right now!

Ann Bartow said...

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.

Unknown said...

Ann, that story takes the cake--thank you!! (And thus endeth my inquiries about SSRN downloads....)

Anonymous said...

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 for visiting Law School Innovation, by the way. It's nice to have your perspective, given your extensive experience.