Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Possibly-Serious, Possibly-Not Last Word on Law Journals, OR Belated Mobblogging, OR a Case Study in Perverse Incentives.

A few facts about publications, and tenure.

Probability of faculty members getting tenure (plus status, good lateral transfers, jobs in the first place, etc.) increases in number of publications.

Expected number of publications increases in a) number of ideas cognitively available, and b) probability of acceptance from journals.

Number of ideas cognitively available increases in crappiness of other publications out there, to refute.

Probability of acceptance from journals increases in a) number of journals, and b) journal acceptance rate.

Crappiness of other publications out there, to refute, also increases in a) number of journals, and b) journal acceptance rate.

Ergo, modulo other factors, tenure probability increases in number of journals and journal acceptance rate.

Law faculties tend to grant a lot of tenure and have a lot of really crappy journals.

Moreover, the factor permitting the large number of journals (student editing) is also the factor permitting the crappiness.

Coincidence? Sinister conspiracy? Or the natural result of individual utility-maximizing behavior en masse?

Cross-references: [1] [2] [3] [4]

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