Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Rankings of Economics Journals: Implications for Law Reviews?

As dedicated propertyprof readers know, we talk about rankings of law journals every now and then.  Thanks to Danny Sokol's generosity I have two recent papers to bring to your attention on rankings. 

"Economic Departments and Their Contributions to the Elite Economic Journals".  The abstract reads:

Given the prestige enjoyed by several economic departments, there is a natural curiosity regarding their contributions to the economic literature. This paper analyzes the appearance of all academic institutions worldwide in the eight leading economic journals, the "Blue Ribbon Eight," from 1991 to 2005. We cite those institutions who appear the most, and analyze the composition of appearances across all eight journals to assess their degree of diversity. While it is tempting to use these measures as a ranking of institutions, the analysis is meant to be purely an historical appreciation of the contributions of these admirable institutions.

Paul Caron and others have already posted on Andrew Oswald's An Examination of the Reliability of Prestigious Scholarly Journals: Evidence and Implications for Decision-Makers.  His abstract reads:

In universities all over the world, hiring and promotion committees regularly hear the argument: this is important work because it is about to appear in prestigious journal X. Moreover, those who allocate levels of research funding, such as in the multi-billion pound Research Assessment Exercise in UK universities, often come under pressure to assess research quality in a mechanical way by using journal prestige ratings. The results in this paper suggest that such tendencies are dangerous. It uses total citations over a quarter of a century as the criterion. The paper finds that it is far better to publish the best article in an issue of a medium-quality journal like the Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics than to publish the worst article (or often the worst 4 articles) in an issue of a top journal like the American Economic Review. Implications are discussed.

This raises some interesting possibilities for dissection of law reviews.  And, in fact, an r.a. and I are running some numbers on this right now.  I hope to have some more well-considered thoughts on this shortly.  The quick preview is this: what seems to separate the major journals (like Harvard and Columbia) are the huge citation winners they publish.  The best (in terms of citations) of the even some of the law journals in the 30s do better than the bottom of the elite.

Over at co-op, Dave Hoffman has posted on How Well Can Publication of an Article in a Top Accounting Journal Be Used as a Proxy for its Contribution?

Alfred Brophy
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Anyone interested in the econ journal ranking should take a look at Econ Journal Watch this month, which has fascinating articles on the narrow range of scholarship considered eligible for top journal publication.

Posted by: Frank | May 22, 2007 1:10:16 PM

Frank--I look forward to reading that. Sounds pretty similar to law reviews, no?

Posted by: Al | May 22, 2007 5:31:15 PM

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