SSRN as a Measure of Scholarly Performance:
Paul Caron and Bernard Black have just posted their paper on using SSRN downloads to measure the scholarly performance of law faculties. I am very skeptical about using SSRN to measure performance, whether of individual faculty members or faculties as a whole. Still, the paper has lots of very interesting tidbits for SSRN followers out there. Among them is this interesting insight into the possible future of SSRN:
  . . . SSRN already requires users to login before downloading a paper for ip addresses from which it has found a pattern of multiple downloads of the same paper. SSRN is likely to require users generally to login before downloading papers in the not too distant future. This should substantially limit the gaming potential that now exists.
  Required login can also respond to other limitations of the downloads measure. It will permit development of more refined measures of a paper's scholarly value. For example, downloads could be weighted, based on a metric of the quality downloader. Faculty downloads could be given greater weight than student downloads, for example.
  Anyway, everyone should now go to SSRN to download Paul and Bernard's paper, which will help boost their numbers and help out U Texas and Cincinnati in the rankings.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Gaming SSRN Downloads:
  2. SSRN as a Measure of Scholarly Performance:
Anonymous Law Student:
And people thought that the measures that US News used were easy to game...
8.16.2005 10:35pm
Tim Lambert (mail) (www):
Mary Rosh posting on freerepublic in June 2000:

If you want to read the research paper upon which this research is based, go to:

The papers that get downloaded the most get noticed the most by other academics. It is very important that people download this paper has frequently as possible.

The paper she is touting is by none other than John Lott.
8.16.2005 11:12pm
Anonymous Law Student:
And Lambert's crusade against Lott continues.
8.17.2005 8:33am
It would seem like number of downloads per article posted would be a better indicator of scholarly _quality_ than downloads, downloads per affiliated faculty member, or new downloads. Some schools have been a little slower to get on the ssrn bandwagon. Professors at some schools (particularly those with older faculty members)tend to focus on writing actual books, which usually don't find their way to online databases. It's interesting that the correlation the authors find for downloads per paper posted to total downloads is one of the weakest correlations for their various dependent variables.
8.17.2005 11:02am