There are hundreds of thousands of papers “published” in LSN e-journals. These papers have the potential to provide a great deal of insight into the production and consumption of legal academic research. I’ve been interested in this data for a while, but it wasn’t until this weekend that I finally found some time to dig a bit into law school research production and impact as reflected in SSRN e-journals.

To do this, I collected metadata on about a quarter of a million articles published in LSN e-journals. I kept track of the author’s stated affiliations and the number of downloads. I then grouped papers by school affiliation for those schools ranking in the U.S. News top 100. More information on how the data was processed can be seen here: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3070187.  In the future I also hope to look into top global schools.

The distribution of downloads/school is quite skewed, with a few schools receiving a very high number of downloads, and the majority making up the lefthand (i.e. the low-impact) side of the distribution.

Downloads/School Distribution

However, if we normalize by the number of papers published, we see a somewhat less-skewed distribution:

Mean Download Distribution

If we look at the correlation between ranking and the other variables we see a fairly uniform negative correlation between most productivity/impact measures and US News ranking, suggesting that as a school’s ranking decreases (i.e. it moves “up” the ranking) the production and impact of scholarship increase. Meanwhile, the number of faculty members also increases.

 

US News Rank
Papers -0.685171
Total Downloads -0.66488
Downloads/Paper -0.626963
Papers/Faculty -0.454281
Downloads/Faculty -0.625902
Faculty Members 0.377584

 

We can see this rank/impact correlation in a scatterplot, size here is proportional to the number of papers published by authors affiliated with the institution:

Plot 668

The table below includes data on the 87,988 papers that appear in LSN e-journals and have authors that I was able to (reasonably) accurately associate with an institution that has a law school ranked in the U.S. News top 100. The table is sortable. You’ll notice some fairly substantial differences in ranking depending on how you sort the data, reminding us how sensitive rankings are to their inputs.

 

School Rank Papers Downloads Downloads/Paper Papers/Faculty Downloads/Faculty Downloads/Author Papers/Author SSRN Authors
Yale 1 2386 1000541 419.3 34.1 14293.4 1793.1 4.3 558
Stanford 2 2268 1035652 456.6 26.4 12042.5 1928.6 4.2 537
Harvard 3 4414 2110573 478.2 28.7 13705.0 2119.0 4.4 996
University of Chicago 4 2177 1208925 555.3 29.8 16560.6 3123.8 5.6 387
Columbia University 5 1626 534843 328.9 11.0 3613.8 1323.9 4.0 404
New York University 6 3034 1144301 377.2 22.3 8414.0 1863.7 4.9 614
University of Pennsylvania 7 2590 1037005 400.4 32.8 13126.6 2480.9 6.2 418
University of Michigan 8 1859 564562 303.7 20.9 6343.4 1303.8 4.3 433
University of Virginia 8 1498 499758 333.6 19.2 6407.2 1952.2 5.9 256
Duke 10 1900 720863 379.4 24.4 9241.8 2529.3 6.7 285
Northwestern 10 1837 616213 335.4 17.8 5982.7 1975.0 5.9 312
Berkeley 12 2299 751912 327.1 31.5 10300.2 1347.5 4.1 558
Cornell 13 1748 530974 303.8 33.6 10211.0 1557.1 5.1 341
University of Texas 14 1579 439498 278.3 17.5 4883.3 1878.2 6.7 234
Georgetown 15 2366 749051 316.6 18.2 5761.9 1770.8 5.6 423
UCLA 15 1511 574555 380.2 17.2 6529.0 1934.5 5.1 297
Vanderbilt 17 1541 493785 320.4 41.6 13345.5 2789.7 8.7 177
Washington University in St. Louis 18 901 294489 326.8 14.8 4827.7 1702.2 5.2 173
University of Southern California 19 1314 503861 383.5 32.9 12596.5 1481.9 3.9 340
University of Iowa 20 655 141980 216.8 20.5 4436.9 771.6 3.6 184
University of Notre Dame 20 854 343453 402.2 20.3 8177.5 2352.4 5.8 146
Emory 22 1174 251069 213.9 19.6 4184.5 1249.1 5.8 201
Boston University 23 1117 325274 291.2 24.8 7228.3 1659.6 5.7 196
University of Minnesota 23 1395 391257 280.5 25.4 7113.8 1493.3 5.3 262
Arizona State 25 1082 223154 206.2 21.2 4375.6 1019.0 4.9 219
Boston College 26 1120 266962 238.4 26.0 6208.4 1022.8 4.3 261
University of Alabama 26 683 183507 268.7 18.5 4959.6 1683.6 6.3 109
University of California_Irvine 28 1320 405150 306.9 41.3 12660.9 2485.6 8.1 163
Washington and Lee 28 433 112332 259.4 13.1 3404.0 1841.5 7.1 61
George Washington 30 2015 969066 480.9 27.6 13274.9 3066.7 6.4 316
Indiana_Bloomington 30 1388 331947 239.2 26.7 6383.6 1333.1 5.6 249
Ohio State 30 837 415210 496.1 18.6 9226.9 2256.6 4.5 184
University of Georgia 30 858 220777 257.3 20.0 5134.3 1346.2 5.2 164
University of Washington 30 1200 319438 266.2 24.5 6519.1 1079.2 4.1 296
University of Wisconsin 30 750 175373 233.8 15.6 3653.6 863.9 3.7 203
Fordham 36 1223 288645 236.0 19.4 4581.7 1016.4 4.3 284
University of Colorado 36 783 249786 319.0 16.3 5203.9 1365.0 4.3 183
Wake Forest 36 528 93545 177.2 12.6 2227.3 1230.9 6.9 76
University of California_Davis 39 954 272667 285.8 22.2 6341.1 1854.9 6.5 147
University of North Carolina 39 934 276308 295.8 19.1 5638.9 1439.1 4.9 192
William and Mary 41 655 145634 222.3 14.9 3309.9 1300.3 5.8 112
George Mason 41 1706 426845 250.2 48.7 12195.6 1749.4 7.0 244
University of Florida 41 1155 219036 189.6 17.2 3269.2 1223.7 6.5 179
University of Illinois 44 1157 361494 312.4 28.2 8816.9 1882.8 6.0 192
University of Utah 44 783 224945 287.3 25.3 7256.3 1956.0 6.8 115
Brigham Young 46 592 162554 274.6 22.8 6252.1 1451.4 5.3 112
Southern Methodist 46 627 109639 174.9 16.1 2811.3 1218.2 7.0 90
Florida State 48 1171 248764 212.4 28.6 6067.4 1715.6 8.1 145
University of Arizona 48 814 244892 300.9 21.4 6444.5 1353.0 4.5 181
University of Maryland 48 1190 254447 213.8 24.3 5192.8 856.7 4.0 297
Baylor 51 123 45208 367.5 4.4 1614.6 1102.6 3.0 41
Tulane 51 418 83761 200.4 9.3 1861.4 872.5 4.4 96
Temple 53 986 326059 330.7 17.3 5720.3 1781.7 5.4 183
University of California_Hastings 54 584 114934 196.8 9.3 1824.3 1321.1 6.7 87
University of Connecticut 54 655 134930 206.0 14.9 3066.6 827.8 4.0 163
University of Houston 54 808 204289 252.8 13.7 3462.5 1469.7 5.8 139
Seton Hall 57 515 123414 239.6 15.6 3739.8 1738.2 7.3 71
University of Kentucky 57 389 77419 199.0 17.7 3519.0 850.8 4.3 91
University of Nebraska 57 275 61556 223.8 10.6 2367.5 809.9 3.6 76
University of Richmond 57 322 63936 198.6 9.2 1826.7 1014.9 5.1 63
University of Tennessee 57 522 245448 470.2 19.3 9090.7 3068.1 6.5 80
Case Western 62 676 178787 264.5 18.3 4832.1 1596.3 6.0 112
Rutgers 62 1266 275037 217.2 16.9 3667.2 1041.8 4.8 264
University of Nevada 62 549 99679 181.6 19.6 3560.0 1277.9 7.0 78
Georgia State 65 737 143834 195.2 12.9 2523.4 978.5 5.0 147
Loyola LA 65 573 174453 304.5 9.7 2956.8 2076.8 6.8 84
Northeastern 65 721 137301 190.4 20.6 3922.9 1144.2 6.0 120
Pennsylvania State_Dickinson 65 203 24920 122.8 11.3 1384.4 1132.7 9.2 22
University of Kansas 65 591 106362 180.0 19.7 3545.4 1363.6 7.6 78
University of Missouri 65 1043 278224 266.8 34.8 9274.1 2060.9 7.7 135
Cardozo 65 655 168034 256.5 11.3 2897.1 2301.8 9.0 73
Pepperdine 72 517 120432 232.9 14.4 3345.3 1852.8 8.0 65
St. John’s 72 454 91952 202.5 12.3 2485.2 1242.6 6.1 74
University of Cincinnati 72 311 58953 189.6 12.0 2267.4 830.3 4.4 71
University of Oklahoma 72 244 89481 366.7 8.1 2982.7 1315.9 3.6 68
University of Denver 76 717 130615 182.2 9.6 1741.5 1044.9 5.7 125
University of Arkansas_Fayetteville 77 304 52452 172.5 11.3 1942.7 718.5 4.2 73
University of Miami 77 753 196225 260.6 9.7 2515.7 1102.4 4.2 178
University of New Mexico 77 310 36048 116.3 9.7 1126.5 396.1 3.4 91
University of San Diego 77 791 292267 369.5 14.4 5313.9 3699.6 10.0 79
Villanova 77 460 119690 260.2 15.3 3989.7 1554.4 6.0 77
Loyola_Chicago 82 470 106812 227.3 10.0 2272.6 1722.8 7.6 62
Pennsylvania State_University Park 82 958 195698 204.3 28.2 5755.8 1322.3 6.5 148
University of Pittsburgh 82 840 189728 225.9 22.7 5127.8 1290.7 5.7 147
University of Tulsa 82 124 15325 123.6 6.9 851.4 528.4 4.3 29
American University 86 1184 278334 235.1 24.2 5680.3 983.5 4.2 283
University of Oregon 86 305 68106 223.3 10.9 2432.4 840.8 3.8 81
Brooklyn Law 88 663 159763 241.0 11.1 2662.7 2754.5 11.4 58
Indiana_Indianapolis 88 683 116366 170.4 18.0 3062.3 1003.2 5.9 116
St. Louis University 88 510 88329 173.2 11.6 2007.5 1162.2 6.7 76
University of South Carolina 88 475 86071 181.2 11.9 2151.8 819.7 4.5 105
Chicago_Kent 92 535 105582 197.3 8.2 1624.3 1852.3 9.4 57
Syracuse 92 638 122182 191.5 14.5 2776.9 860.4 4.5 142
Texas A&M 92 1018 256164 251.6 29.9 7534.2 1407.5 5.6 182
University of Louisville 92 445 82513 185.4 20.2 3750.6 1500.2 8.1 55
Louisiana State 96 293 57141 195.0 10.1 1970.4 664.4 3.4 86
Michigan State 96 913 211915 232.1 18.3 4238.3 1059.6 4.6 200
Stetson 96 388 64445 166.1 10.5 1741.8 947.7 5.7 68
West Virginia University 96 275 41686 151.6 9.5 1437.4 595.5 3.9 70
Florida International 100 535 86036 160.8 18.4 2966.8 1000.4 6.2 86


Caveats & Details: 
There are a few caveats to consider here. The data is not strictly limited to law school faculty. I examined any paper that appeared in an LSN e-journal. I then tried to ascertain which institution the author(s) were affiliated with. This will lead to some over-inclusion beyond law school faculty, which will be exacerbated for larger institutions. When a faculty member from another school/department (e.g. business school or economics) posts a paper to an LSN e-journal, their work will be attributed to their corresponding schools. The data will also include student papers, etc.

When a co-authored paper listed authors from multiple institutions, each institution was credited with a full paper and the full number of downloads for that work. A case can be made for fractional counting, but that isn’t the norm in impact assessment, so I didn’t do it here.

In addition to error that may have been introduced in the school identification stage (of which there is definitely some) this data is also affected by how people use SSRN. Schools where many faculty members use it to upload lots of papers will do better than others.

For a somewhat more full discussion of the data collection process see: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3070187