We are laboring away here in Bloomington on our large-scale longitudinal database of legal scholarship [hereafter the AMD2H database, for Arewa, Morriss, Dau-Schmidt, Hook, & Henderson]. In a nutshell, we are carefully linking 80 years worth of bibliographic data from the Index of Legal Periodical (ILP) with 85 years of biographical information from the AALS directory and a newly created categorization system that reflects evidence of institutional hierarchy in the decades that preceded U.S. News.
The large payoffs from this data-assembling enterprise are still months and years aways. But the process occasionally provide a window on some interesting freestanding factoids. Here are some:
- Before "disambiguation" (e.g, determining whether "Joseph Smith" is "Joseph B. Smith"), there are 314,331 unique authors in the ILP database. Obviously, this number will go down as we clean the data.
- There are approximately 750,000 articles with one or more named authors. The average output per author is 2.45 articles. After disambiguation, this number will go up, but not radically. (Note, this universe includes students, practicing lawyers, and law professors, so inferences of total academic productivity cannot yet be drawn.)
- Similar to Paul Caron's observation on the Long Tail of Legal Scholarship, the Top 1000 authors account for 9.1% of the entries (70,452). In other words, 1/3 of 1% of the authors produced 9.1% of the entries. After disambiguation, this disparity is likely to be slightly larger. Let's save the "quantity versus quality" debate until later; beyond citation counts, good luck operationalizing a measure of quality. Moreover, it is impossible to cite what was never written.
In addition to building the database, we are documenting, through a careful sampling process, the scope and coverage of the ILP database vis-a-vis a typical or exceptional author's total career productivity. That process has also yielded some interesting insights.
We hope to have one or two summary papers done by the fall, which will offer much more refined analyses, including trends over time. Stay tuned.