I noted yesterday that law schools have really focused on interdisciplinary scholarship in recent years, especially when hiring new faculty. But it is also fascinating that many law schools have failed to adjust to the type of scholarship produced by such scholars. Many newly-hired faculty have Ph.D.s in such areas as economics, history, or political science, and are accustomed to the promotion and publishing standards of the disciplines in which they did the majority of their post-graduate work, not those of the legal academy.
For example, my experience in political science is that it is rare to see articles that are produced by only a single author. Some papers have five co-authors or more, and most have at least two. Yet my conversations with interdisciplinary scholars at many law schools seem to indicate that co-authored works are discounted, especially when more than two authors are listed on the piece. Another prominent example are books, which often take far longer to produce than an article, yet again many law schools do not give such works the credit that they deserve. Yet as we move into a new era of interdisciplinary research, shouldn't our standards adjust to compensate for the new focus?
As a young scholar, I have passed on or postponed a number of interdisciplinary collaborations due to my own uncertainty about how the works produced would be viewed both within and outside of my institution. Yet I also know that collaborations with my colleagues in political science or history would result in works that are better and more insightful than what I can accomplish on my own. My own experience with co-authorship is that each of the authors puts in about 75% of the work of a solo-authored project, primarily because collaboration results in many discussions about the work with your co-author, and nearly all of the editing and thinking that would be required of a solo piece. If properly split up, the only aspect of co-authorship that is easier is that you do not have to all of the research and writing of the piece; instead, that obligation is shared by both authors. I greatly enjoy and have done both types of projects, solo and co-authored, but the institutional incentives seem to clearly favor solo pieces even though the legal academy has made this steady march toward interdisciplinary work.
Tomorrow, I hope to have a post commenting on the challenges of coding empirical data.