June 4, 2010
There is no reliable method to measure the "scholarly" quality of law faculty: Results of Brian Leiter's Poll.
So what is the best way to evaluate the "scholarly" quality of a law faculty? Chicago law prof Brian Leiter launched a poll to find out by asking participants to rank order, from best to worst, the different ways of assessing the scholarly quality of a law faculty, broadly defined. 257 survey takers responded to the call and the results are in.
- There is no reliable method (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
- Impact/citation studies loses to There is no reliable method by 125–115
- Reputational surveys loses to There is no reliable method by 130–110, loses to Impact/citation studies by 118–107
- SSRN Downloads loses to There is no reliable method by 163–65, loses to Reputational surveys by 173–51
About the results, Leiter writes:
I'm a bit puzzled by the victory of "there is no reliable method," though at least some readers told me they chose it as a proxy for "none of the above." That would make more sense, since I assume all those who voted for "no reliable method" are in habit of adjudging some faculties better than others, so they must actually believe there is some rational basis for those judgments. Alternatively, perhaps some readers took "reliable" to mean wholly accurate or infallible, and then, of course, one would have to agree.
Those desperately seeking some sort of "scholarly" recognition by the asinine metric of mouse clicks (SSRN download counts) ought to know better by now. [JH]