Monday, 19 January 2015

Law Journal Ranking (based on REF 2014)

Ranking of 40 law journals based on REF data (further explanations below):
1. Current Legal Problems (3.001928)
2. Law Quarterly Review (3.0)
3. Lloyd’s Maritime & Commercial Law Quarterly (2.965556)
4. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies (2.96061)
5. Modern Law Review (2.950283)
6. Cambridge Law Journal (2.948772)
7. International Journal of Constitutional Law (2.945333)
8. Yearbook of European Law (2.9435)
9. Journal of Corporate Law Studies (2.940556)
10. Common Market Law Review (2.934118)
11. Journal of Legal History (2.922667)
12. Medical Law Review (2.922444)
13. International Journal of Law in Context (2.914815)
14. Social and Legal Studies (2.914138)
15. Journal of Private International Law (2.9135)
16. Public Law (2.898929)
17. International and Comparative Law Quarterly (2.898)
18. Journal of International Economic Law (2.89722)
19. European Journal of International Law (2.895862)
20. Intellectual Property Quarterly (2.888421)
21. Human Rights Law Review (2.888065)
22. Child and Family Law Quarterly (2.88619)
23. King’s Law Journal (2.88375)
24. Journal of Law and Society (2.876528)
25. Industrial Law Journal (2.869615)
26. Legal Studies (2.862065)
27. European Law Review (2.861277)
28. Criminology and Criminal Justice (2.853333)
28. Journal of Environmental Law (2.853333)
30. British Journal of Criminology (2.838689)
31. Edinburgh Law Review (2.793125)
32. Leiden Journal of International Law (2.787333)
33. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law (2.77619)
34. Criminal Law Review (2.764634)
35. Journal of Business Law (2.76375)
36. European Law Journal (2.760938)
37. International Journal of Human Rights (2.711765)
38. Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly (2.71)
39. Howard Journal of Criminal Justice (2.606667)
40. Journal of Criminal Law (2.259231)
Explanations:
  • I used the REF data for the output GPAs and the journal submissions per law school. I included the 66 law schools that took part in the REF 2014 and where output data are available (in addition, London Met took part but the output data show ‘-‘).
  • I considered the 40 journals most frequently submitted to Law’s REF 2014 (see here); for other journals the data would be too unreliable, ie those journals may be higher or lower ranked than the 40 (we just don’t know).
  • I used the following approach (a bit different from what I did previously for the RAE 2008, see here): for each journal (i) I counted how often each law school submitted articles from this journal, (ii) then I multiplied this number with the REF output GPA of this law school (as a proxy for the assessment of these articles given that we don’t know the precise rating of individual outputs), (iii) then I added the scores together and divided them by the total number of articles submitted from this journal à thus, the numbers in brackets indicate the estimated REF evaluation of articles from the respective journals.
  • PS: see here for a corresponding ranking of politics journals.

The Law Journals most frequently submitted to the REF 2014

All submissions to the REF 2014 have just been published. In the unit of assessment for law, 5523 outputs were submitted: 62.54% of those were journal articles, 22.07% book chapters, 13.51% books and 1.88% others. With respect to the journal articles, I just counted which journals were submitted most frequently – and here are the top 40:
1. Modern Law Review (105)
2. Legal Studies (88)
3. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies (81)
4. Journal of Law and Society (69)
5. Cambridge Law Journal (57)
6. Public Law (56)
7. Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly (54)
8. International and Comparative Law Quarterly (53)
9. Current Legal Problems (48)
10. European Law Review (47)
11. Medical Law Review (45)
12. British Journal of Criminology (44)
13. Criminal Law Review (42)
14. Journal of Business Law (40)
14. Child and Family Law Quarterly (40)
16. Law Quarterly Review (36)
17. Common Market Law Review (34)
18. European Law Journal (32)
19. Human Rights Law Review (31)
20. European Journal of International Law (29)
21. International Journal of Law in Context (27)
22. Journal of Criminal Law (26)
23. Industrial Law Journal (26)
24. Criminology and Criminal Justice (23)
25. Social and Legal Studies (22)
26. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law (21)
27. Yearbook of European Law (20)
27. Journal of Private International Law (20)
29. Intellectual Property Quarterly (19)
29. Lloyd's Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly (19)
29. Journal of International Economic Law (19)
29. Journal of Corporate Law Studies (19)
33. Journal of Environmental Law (18)
34. International Journal of Human Rights (17)
34. King's Law Journal (17)
36. International Journal of Constitutional Law (16)
36. Howard Journal of Criminal Justice (16)
36. Edinburgh Law Review (16)
39. Leiden Journal of International Law (15)
39. Journal of Legal History (15)
Of course, I’d not suggest that frequency = quality (though there may be some correlation). But, as readers of this blog may suspect, I’ll also do a quality calculation very soon (as I did with the RAE 2008 data). 

Friday, 9 January 2015

REF 2014: the relationship between inclusiveness and quality of submissions

The UK's REF 2014 allowed universities to choose how many of their members of staff to submit for assessment. How could they have made use of it (and what did they actually do)?

According to model (i) the outcome is mainly due to differences in strategy, namely that the universities that only submitted few staff did so to get a high rank in the REF results: thus, one would expect a negative relationship between quality (as measured by the GPA rank) and inclusiveness (in % of staff included). By contrast, model (ii) takes the view that all UK universities pursued a similar strategy (be as high in the ranking as possible, avoid low quality submissions); instead, the differences are due to the fact that less research-active universities just did not have enough good submissions they could make; thus, one would expect a positive relationship between quality and inclusiveness.

Now, the Figure shows the actual result based on the GPA quality ranks and the HESA data on % of staff included. The overall result is that of a fairly strong positive correlation (0.727), thus confirming model (ii). This finding also means that the GPA ranks remain meaningful since the ability to select only reinforced the differences between good and not-so-good universities (while adjusting the ranking for selectiveness is problematic since we just don’t know how non-submitted staff would have performed; cf also here and here).
  From the Figure it is also noticeable that the positive correlation seems mainly due to the difference between two groups of universities: high-ranked universities with high inclusiveness on the one hand (eg, the Russell Group universities), and low-ranked ones with low inclusiveness on the other (mainly the former polytechnics). Therefore, I also split the dataset into the 50% top and bottom ranked universities. Here the correlations between quality and inclusiveness are still positive; it is 0.423 for the universities ranked 65-128, but only 0.056 for the ones ranked 1-64. Thus, unsurprisingly, strategic considerations seem to have played a greater role for the top ranked universities.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Identities (Knausgaard, Block & comparative law)

ICLMy non-law holiday reading included Knausgaard’s Boyhood Island and Block’s Second Language Identities: very different books but, coincidentally, also with a common theme. In Knausgaard’s book there is a nice section where he reflects on a childhood picture of him:
‘Is this creature the same person as the one sitting in Malmo writing? And will the forty-year-old creature […] be the same as the grey hunched geriatric […] in forty years from now […] Wouldn’t it be more natural to operate with several names since their identities and self-perceptions are so very different? Such that the foetus might be called Jens Ove, for example, and the infant Nils Ove, and the five-to ten-year-old Per Ove [etc…]. Then the first name would represent the distinctness of the age range, the middle name would represent continuity and the last name family affiliation.’
In Block’s book a frequent theme is that identity is not fixed but, to offer a quote as well, that it is about ‘negotiating new subject positions at the crossroads of the past, present and future’ – and this is then further discussed for the situation of second language learners / speakers.
  Reflecting on my research, there may be a link to comparative law as well. The insight that identities are often mixed / subject to change is something that can also be said about legal systems as they shift between legal families. For instance, Knausgaard’s naming suggestion may also work if we say that a country belongs to the traditions of ‘modern French civil law’, ‘the old English common law’ etc. - with ‘civil/common law’ being akin to the last name, ‘French/English’ being akin to the permanent middle name and ‘modern/old’ (or other adjectives) being akin to the altering first name.

Monday, 29 December 2014

My Top Blog Posts 2014

  But are these my best posts? Perhaps not given that 'the internet' (google, twitter etc) is hardly rational. Thus, let's add some links to further posts that I thought were 'good' (however it may be defined) but didn't really get a lot of attention. In terms of blue-sky thinking, I'd like to refer to my The "Imperial College School of Law"? (November 2014); Can the "deep state" analogy be applied to corporate governance? (June 2014); What explains the increase in religious extremism? (February 2014). And then my quasi-book reviews of Niall Ferguson's Civilization (January 2014) and Francis Fukuyama’s Political Order and Political Decay (November 2014).

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Wrongly predicting the REF results …

As Homer Simpson famously said 'trying is the first step towards failure'. So, I tried! 
  In 2012, I claimed to be able to predict the REF 2014 results (for law). Now, the results have been published (for law here on the official website and here ranked). I think it's fair to say that some of the law results are a bit of a surprise. Taking the top 20 from the RAE 2008 and correlating those with the 2014 ranks of those universities, the correlation is not that strong: 0.24.
  Now, taking this number as a benchmark, let's return to my predictions. I calculated the top 20 in different variants; in the following therefore the correlations of these respective top 20 ranks with the actual REF 2014 law ranks.
  • I started with a time-trend model (starting with the first RAE 1992 up to 2008) but here the correlation is very weak: 0.08.
  • Then, I took the average of the previous four RAEs. Here, the correlation is higher: 0.34.
  • Finally, my own model which was a mixed one with a weighted mean rank and a time trend: here we have 0.37.
So, at least my own model was a bit better than just taking the previous number(s). However, it's not great either: but I may try again for the REF 2020 (or so)...

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Lapland and Legal Pluralism (conference)

I’m about to go to a symposium on Legal Pluralism as Legal Culture at the University of Lapland. Very much looking forward to it – I may post a (winterly, I assume) picture on this blog next week.... My presentation is going to be on ‘Legal pluralism as a question of traditional, postmodern and/or socio-legal comparative law’ – the slides are available here

PS: picture added with me in sauna someone ice swimming.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

How countries succeed: unintended consequences and inconvenient truths (Fukuyama’s recent book)

Two years ago I attended a talk by Francis Fukuyama in Berkeley about his (then) forthcoming book Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy, now published of course. The book identifies ‘the state’, the ‘rule of law’ and ‘democracy’ as the main elements for successful political development. So far so uncontroversial, at least for the mainstream Western readership. But, then, Fukuyuma, being a historian, identifies certain historical factors that have shown to matter for each of those elements – and some of those may have a certain shock value for Western readers. For example:
  • Wars and a strong  military often led to the development of effective bureaucracies (ie peaceful countries have a disadvantage).
  • Ethnic cleansing was often crucial for the formation of national identities and nation building (and thus 'the state'). And radical Islam may play a corresponding role.
  • Clientelism is an early form of democracy. And building an effective state without democratic accountability may initially be better than developing both together.
Of course, Fukuyuma also says that these historical insights should not be seen as policy recommendations. Still, I find these ‘inconvenient truths’ valuable, not least since they challenge the naivety of some of the development policy discourse, also criticised in my research (eg, here, in the chapter on ‘comparative law and development).

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Dynamics of PhD examiners (UK)

In the UK, PhDs are assessed by two examiners. Being a PhD examiner is more interesting than marking exams. However, it is also more challenging as there are no fixed rules on how to assess the quality of the thesis. For first-time examiners this may lead to some doubts where to position themselves between the extremes of micro-management and a mere plausibility check (eg, when writing the pre-viva report). But, then, there is also the other examiner: so how can we understand the dynamics?

Perhaps it’s like this: the ‘newbie’ (who starts here with a moderate position) adjusts his or her stance according to the views of the other examiner who may either be fairly harsh or lenient. It is also assumed that the newbie is initially more willing to change his or her view for the examination of the next thesis, but gradually becomes more confident, and eventually converges to the average.

But, then, the model of the first figure would mean that all experienced examiners should be in the middle; thus, it’s not consistent to say that they may have the extreme positions of the first figure. Therefore, the second figure assumes the opposite; the newbie is still fairly extreme but gradually converges to the average of the other examiners.

However, the second model also does not seem realistic since not all experienced examiners are equally lenient/harsh. Thus, the third model may be the most realistic one: the experienced examiners vary a bit. The newbie may initially have a more extreme position but gradually adjusts it and converges to a stable state which, however, even in the long run may deviate a bit from the average.
  Does this show that this system ‘works’? It works well in the sense that having two examiners means that all examiners have to adjust their positions and therefore, in the long and in average, a common standard emerges. But, for the individual candidate the fact that his or her two examiners may be skewed to one or the other direction means that good/bad luck clearly plays a role. So what to do? Perhaps a third person or, as in other countries, a panel of examiners may help.