Back in September 2010 when Greg Sisk and his colleagues published their first study of citations to faculty at the top 70 schools I blogged extensively about it. I compared the Sisk rankings of recent citations to the schools' tenured faculty members to other indicators of quality, such as LSAT scores of entering students and U.S. News peer assessment scores. I was also interested in the relationship between the Sisk rankings and recent law review citations; I re-ranked his data according to the mean and median of citations to to schools' tenured faculty members (rather than combined 2*mean + median formula that he and Brian Leiter use). I concluded with some fun with scatterplots of that data -- never a dull moment around this place, that's for sure!
This summer I've been so busy with other work I haven't had as much of an opportunity to comment on Sisk's most recent study, "Scholarly Impact of Law School Faculties in 2012: Applying Leiter Scores to Rank the Top Third. " Lots of people are talking about this, of course. Over at prawfs some people are talking about the study and about expanding it -- I like the idea that schools outside of the top 70 just use the Sisk-Leiter methodology and then post them. Making the subjects of study do the work has the virtue of reducing the cost to the investigors -- sort of Tom Sawyer-like, no? Anyway, it would be one way of getting the data compiled quickly. Paul Caron collects a lot of the discussion here. Vic Amar has weighed in here with a robust defense of the rankings here.
I want to focus for a moment on the relationship between the Sisk-Leiter scores and other indicators of law school quality. As long time readers will recall, I'm an advocate of adding variables to the U.S. News rankings -- recent citations to a school's main law review is one of them. At the beginning of the summer I posted a paper that begins the process of investigating other factors, such as percentage African-American student enrollment -- or maybe even percentage African-American faculty. And I think Sisk's score is another likely candidate. In fact, it's highly correlated with a lot of existing measures of school quality.
The Sisk weighted score correlates .85 with U.S. News peer assessment, .74 with the U.S. News lawyer/judge assessment, .84 with LSAT 75th percentile, and .74 with number of citations to the school's main law jouranl for 2004-2011, as reported by John Doyle's Washington and Lee Law Library site..
Cribbing now from a post back in September 2010 ... I'm now thinking that Sisk's faculty scholarly impact scores and recent citations to a law school's main law review (and perhaps secondary law reviews, too), may be used together to help give a good measure of the academic quality of law schools. When used together with U.S. News peer assessment scores and data on student quality, we may begin to refine our picture of a school's academic quality.