In a recent paper, we published a New Inclusive Scholar Rank. We focused on legal scholarship using only citations within U.S. Law Reviews. But our hope is that this idea catches on broadly so that others doing rankings in any field and with any particular materials will consider including a current, inclusive rank. The idea is to add a rank that doesn’t rely on scholars’ full career of publications but rather takes a contemporary cross-section of citations limited to a 3-5 year period. The rank would need to be repeated at regular intervals. Read on to understand more.

Existing legal scholarship ranking systems fail to identify the authors who are currently producing the most impactful scholarship. They count “all time citations,” which also leads to an undercounting of women and other time-limited groups. To rank well in existing systems, scholars must have thirty to forty years of nearly continuous scholarly output. Women tend to have less time to write than men and take more career breaks. Consequently, women average fewer articles over the course of their careers than their male peers. Relying on all-time publications exacerbates this publishing gap and results in a lower-than-expected representation of women in existing rankings, especially at the upper end. Looking at all-time publications also prevents existing rankings from recognizing the current top scholars. Because all articles a scholar has ever written count towards their rank, papers written decades ago are factored in and can play a significant role in where an author ranks today.

Our new, inclusive rank was run by counting citations to law review articles in the HeinOnline Law Journal Library by limiting to articles written in a recent, three-year period. Indeed, this new rank includes far more women than any existing rank we are aware of. It also includes younger scholars and non-traditional scholars, such as practitioners.

Do you work in an organization that provides a ranking system? If so, consider a recent cross-section as a replacement or supplement to your current system.