Thursday, August 3, 2006

The Sullivan Scale: Ranking Law Journals Based on Submissions

This is great!  I love studies that rank law reviews and law schools.  Earlier this year we had the roll out of the Hylton Rankings (and here).  Now our friends at co-op have rolled out another one: the Sullivan Scale, named after Charles Sullivan.  It looks at journals based on their self-reporting about number of submissions.  I think this is an important measure of how the market perceives journal quality.  Much like the US News measure of rejection rate of applicants, the Sullivan scale relies on how many people are trying to get a piece of the very limited turf.  Some of those figures are sobering: Stanford gets 3000 submissions, for, what, 16 slots or thereabouts, I guess.

It would be quite useful to have accurate data on this.  Expresso ranks journals based on the number of submissions made through expresso.  They call it the 100 most popular general student law reviews.  But as I've commented recently, their list is more than problematic.  To look at expresso's numbers, the Wisconsin Law Review is ranked number one.  Wisconsin's a good journal, no doubt.  But based John Doyle's outstanding website, Wisconsin's ranked 38 in citations in recent years among general interest, student-edited law journals.  (And to take some other examples, the Harvard Law Review is ranked 57.)  Just to do some comparison with the Sullivan rankings, bepress, and Doyle's Citation Ranks (and I'm only ranking the 10 journals that Sullivan ranks), here's a table that compares them--and I've added a final column that lists citation rank among all general interest, student-edited reviews:

Law Review Sullivan bepress Citations Citation Rank
Among All
Stanford 1 6 1 4
Ohio State 2 5 6 25
Iowa 2 4 9 34
Virginia 2 1 2 9.5
Cornell 2 9 4 12
Texas 6 3 5 14
California 7 2 3 11
Tulane 8 10 8 29
Rutgers Camden 8 7 10 80
U.C. Davis 10 6 7 27

It's hard to make comparisons between a lot of these journals, because so many of them are so, so terrific.  But a couple of things appear here, prime among them: the bepress ranking yeilds some strange results.

As Charles Sullivan noted a few days ago, a lot of people use US News as the general metric for law review, as well as law school quality.  Though I think citations to a school's law review may tell us something about the law review's quality, as well as about the quality of the law school that publisheds the review.  I discuss that some in this paper.

All this talk of bepress reminds me of a question that's been thrown around a lot in Tuscaloosa these days: should we use expresso for the fall submissions or not?  The editors of the Alabama Law Review seem to like expresso submissions; they're easy to track and seem to be of high quality.  So there may be the halo effect going on here.  Anyone else have similar, favorable reports from the front lines?

Alfred L. Brophy

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As I've noted before, Expresso rocks in my humble opinion.

Posted by: Ben Barros | Aug 3, 2006 12:28:22 PM

Yes, Ben--I know you're a fan. But do you think law review editors are?

Posted by: Al Brophy | Aug 3, 2006 12:45:08 PM

Why do we care? If most profs use Expresso, I don't think it matters. It should be up to us, not them. For now, I'm willing to jump through some hoops for some articles for the top 20 or so; outside of the top 20, I don't submit to journals that don't take Expresso.

Posted by: Ben Barros | Aug 3, 2006 6:43:08 PM

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