Thursday, August 23, 2018

Fun with Citation Counts: My Multiple Names


Once again, it's time for every law professor's favorite guilty pleasure, the Greg Sisk/Brian Leiter lists of citation counts.  For this week and next Brian is featuring on his blog a list of the top law faculties by median and mean citations, and the top individual scholars in various areas of legal scholarship.

Sisk's and Leiter's method for counting citations performs searches in the law journals section of Westlaw for a four year period (2013-2017) using the formula (firstname /2 lastname).  In my case, that would be (Jack /2 Balkin).

[The full Westlaw formula, in case you are interested, is: TE(Jack /2 Balkin) and date (aft 2012) and date (bef 2018).]

Unfortunately for me, I wrote under a different name, J.M. Balkin, until 2001. So the Sisk-Leiter count does not pick up citations to these earlier works, which include my first 52 articles and my first two books.

Searching with (Jack /2 Balkin) yields 1585 citations. But searching with (Jack or "J.M." /2 Balkin) yields 1740.

Greg Sisk has graciously agreed to include both of my names (Jack and J.M.) in his next citation count study several years from now. He is not going to update my count in his current faculty lists, however, because he focuses on the total citations for entire law school faculties. So the difference will have no effect on the median number of citations for Yale faculty and only a very minor effect on the mean.

Brian Leiter has explained that he does not plan to update the citation counts in this year's lists of individual scholars (although I assume he will search for both of my names in future lists). He explained that there could be many other people who are in a similar position, so it would be ad hoc only to update my citation counts. Moreover, doing so would only bump me up two or three slots in his lists.

However, the lesson here is that if you have ever written under more than one name (whether first or last), you should let Greg Sisk know in advance.

There are, however, some amusing effects of using the correct citation counts.

First, updating this list of most cited originalist scholars courtesy of Michael Ramsey, I am now the most cited originalist in the American legal academy.

Second, among the top five most cited originalist scholars in the American legal academy, (me, Akhil Amar, Michael McConnell, Randy Barnett, and Lawrence Solum) three are liberals and one is a libertarian. Only one is a political conservative.

What this means for originalism I leave to the reader to figure out.

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