Is There a Correlation between Scholarly Productivity, Scholarly Influence and Teaching Effectiveness in American Law Schools? An Empirical Study


This empirical study attempts to answer an age-old debate in legal academia: whether scholarly productivity helps or hurts teaching. The study is of an unprecedented size and scope. It covers every tenured or tenure-track faculty member at 19 American law schools, a total of 623 professors. The study gathers four years of teaching evaluation data (calendar years 2000-03) and creates an index for teaching effectiveness. This index was then correlated against five different measures of research productivity. The first three measure each professor's productivity for the years 2000-03. These productivity measures include a raw count of publications and two weighted counts. The scholarly productivity measure weights scholarly books and top-20 or peer reviewed law review articles above casebooks, treatises or other publications. By comparison, the practice-oriented productivity measure weights casebooks, treatises and practitioner articles at the top of the scale. There are also two measures of scholarly influence. One is a lifetime citation count, and the other is a count of citations per year.

These five measures of research productivity cover virtually any definition of research productivity. Combined with four years of teaching evaluation data the study provides a powerful measure of both sides of the teaching versus scholarship debate. The study correlates each of these five different research measures against the teaching evaluation index for all 623 professors, and each individual law school. The results are counter-intuitive: there is no correlation between teaching effectiveness and any of the five measures of research productivity. Given the breadth of the study, this finding is quite robust.


Law and Society

Date of this Version

October 2006