Robert Anderson

Associate Professor Pepperdine University School of Law

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07/26/2016

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Oh boy. Life is short, so I'm going to keep this short:

1. If a journal publishes more articles, it has more chances of publishing a highly cited article (this is especially true with law reviews, where almost anyting published, e.g., in the Harvard Law Review will be read and cited subsequently). That drives up the h5-index.
2. That latter fact will affect the h5-median.

This ain't rocket science! Everyone in academic philosophy now knows this, everyone in academic law should figure it out too!

Yes, life is short, but if you take the time to work out the math I think you'll find that I'm right.

A low-cited journal will never get there through volume. The h-index is always less than the maximum-cited article. Assuming that citations per article follow a poisson distribution or perhaps negative binomial with a reasonable variance, that maximum does not grow very fast with the number of articles. Even as the number of articles gets very large, as long as the poisson parameter is reasonably low, the h-index will never get very big. Indeed, citation rankings that merely count the number of citations are far, far more susceptible to the effect you describe, as they can grow to infinity with no articles ever receiving many citations. They are just the sum of a bunch of poisson variables.

Now, if the argument is that everyone will always cite the Harvard Law Review even if many of the articles published are garbage (which may well be true), that's just an argument against the use of citations in general, not Google Scholar in particular.

So it's not rocket science, but it may be closer to rocket science than to "academic philosophy."

I never said a "low-cited journal will never get there through volume." What I said, which is still correct, is that "any journal that publishes more pages and articles per year will do better than a peer journal with the same actual impact that publishes fewer articles and pages."

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