I’ve been reading a lot of papers and blog posts lately on how to measure the quality of scholarship.  Apparently, it has nothing at all to do with publishing articles, but rather how well I’m known by my peers.  Now that I understand what I’m supposed to be doing (after all these years!), I have to get going on my to-do list:

  1. I need to hang around with cool people.  In order to ensure that I am cited as broadly as possible, I’ve decided to hang around with the cool people in academia.  Who are the cool people in academia?  Why, one only has to look to the number of citations to determine that.  Just ignore the inherent problems with this analysis.  Eye on the prize.  I want to be cool.
  2. I need to stop writing in tiny areas of the law which scholars find irrelevant.  I need to stop writing in underwater basket-weaving law or dance law.  Cool people don’t do that. I need to write in contracts, torts, business organizations, intellectual property, health law, or maybe something cool and ethereal like law & society.   It doesn’t matter to anyone if I’m in the Congressional Record or wrote op-eds advocating policy change in practical terms.  That doesn’t count.  What matters is how often I’m cited by my peers, and the best way to be cited is to be friends with cool people who will cite me.  I should pick an impact area.     That will make my writing have a deep impact.  Like a meteor.  That HAS to be good.
  3. I need to make sure my new friends cite me in all of their articles.  I need to maybe do some SSRN research and read some drafts and find where my articles will fit perfectly (or not so perfectly) for a proposition they are supporting.  If I’m really desperate, I can do all the verifiable statement of fact footnotes for them, inserting my articles as need be.
  4. I need to blog.  Okay, not like this.  This blog doesn’t count, at least until I’m outed and can sell my story to Lifetime television.  I mean a serious blog about some serious stuff.  See the above topics.  Then people will meet me and say “Oh, I read your blog.”  I will tout their work on my blog, and then hopefully write a piece that links my work to theirs.  Brilliant!
  5. I need to time travel and go to Harvard, Stanford or Yale.  I can’t help but notice the correlation here between law schools and number of citations.  I come for “I can’t find it University School of Law,” and there is no way I can compete with that.  I am asking Michael J. Fox right here and now for his DeLorean.
  6. I need to time travel and write a bunch of stuff so that the cumulative effect is there.  If I go back in time, say the 1920s, with what I know now, I could write some articles that will be trashed in that time period.  Then, as time progresses, some bored, untenured law professor will notice how right I was!  The plan can’t fail.  How do I get that DeLorean again?  Then again, I would have to stay and write for a number of years.  There is no substitute for experience.
  7. Quite frankly, I need to suck up more.  I’ve never been good at giving compliments.  Yes, I will tell someone that their ideas are interesting and awesome.  But I have to mean it.  But now that I’m worried about my citation count, I think I should try to focus more on sucking up to popular people, complimenting them on their ideas regardless of my true feelings, and then explaining to them for hours on end how my ideas are great, too!  It’s foolproof!  Isn’t this what AALS is for anyway?
  8. I need to change my name.  Currently I’m thinking of changing my name to Justice Holmes.   That sounds good for some reason.
  9. I need to forget anything that I’ve learned about the massive endogeneity problems involved with using citations as a signal for success.  I must unlearn….I must unlearn…..
  10. If I focus on citations, I have to give up hope of focusing on making the world a better place.  No one will likely read my articles, including some of my friends who cite them, no matter how good they are. So what if I can’t change the world?  I’ll always have my citations.

If I do all these things, I’ll be a top scholar.  I’ll feel better about myself, because I can measure my success based upon a standard.  If that doesn’t work, I’m going to work on an article suggesting that faculty prominence be measured by height.  Then I’ll buy a pair of stilts.

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