Sep 12

UST Law moves up to 30th in Sisk’s latest ‘scholarly impact’ study

Published on: Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Prof. Greg Sisk and a team of UST Law research librarians recently published an updated version of a 2010 scholarly impact study that ranks the top third of the nation’s ABA-accredited law schools in the area of scholarly contribution from faculty that has garnered attention from media and the law school community.

Refined by University of Chicago Law Prof. Brian Leiter, the “Scholarly Impact Score” for a law faculty is calculated from the mean and the median of total law journal citations over the past five years to the work of tenured members of that law faculty.

In addition to a school-by-school ranking, the study reports the mean, median, and weighted score for each law faculty, along with a listing of the tenured law faculty members at each ranked law school with the highest individual citation counts.

The 2012 scholarly impact study was modeled after Leiter’s 2010 study that initially ranked the top 25 schools in the area of faculty contribution to scholarly research. Sisk and UST Law research librarians Valerie Aggerbeck, Mary Wells and Debby Hackerson then, with Leiter’s endorsement, applied Leiter’s methodology to expand that list to the top 70 law schools. This expanded list provided insight, Sisk said, on other schools that are contributing at a healthy level of scholarly research. It also shed light on schools that might not have long-standing reputations as being top schools for scholarly impact, but are on the move among their peers.

UST Law, one of those schools making progress according to the results of the study, placed 38th in 2010 and 30th in the 2012 in scholarly impact. University California-Irvine, is another great example, Sisk said. The school was founded in 2008 and over the last five years its faculty is producing cited research that has it ranked seventh in the country in scholarly impact.

Many of the traditional academic reputation surveys that rank schools for their scholarly contributions focus on an institution’s past contributions, Sisk said, “whereas the scholarly impact study looks at ‘What kind of scholarly work is proceeding from that school now?’ and ‘How are people responding to it?’”

Results should interest faculty and students alike

The results of the study were encouraging to UST Law faculty who have focused on scholarly impact as a part of fulfilling the school’s mission when it was founded 11 years ago, said Prof. Robert Vischer, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

“It’s very gratifying as it shows that other scholars are relying heavily on the work that is coming out of this faculty,” Vischer said.

Although study provides important insight for legal scholars in evaluating their individual contributions as well as those of their peers at other institutions, Sisk emphasized that the results should also be of interest to current and prospective law students.

“Students ought to be interested in going to a law school that has an intellectual excitement about it,” Sisk said. “And you can’t get there without having faculty who are intellectually exciting – which means they are engaging in scholarship.”

Several media outlets and academicians involved in writing about the law school community mentioned the study, including the Wall Street Journal’s “Law Blog,” the ABA Journal and “The Faculty Lounge” blog.

Along with establishing a ranking for each of the top 70 schools in scholarly impact, the study also noted the top-cited individual faculty members at each of the ranked institutions. Those top legal scholars who helped UST Law achieve its 30th ranking include: professors Tom Berg, Teresa Collett, Robert Delahunty, Neal Hamilton, Lyman Johnson, Michael Paulsen, Gregory Sisk, Susan Stabile and Robert Vischer.

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