U.S. News Law School Scholarly Impact: An Update from HeinOnline

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This past February, U.S. News announced that they were considering evaluating U.S. law school scholarly impact and would be using HeinOnline as the source for the citation data.

Since this announcement, we have received many questions and concerns from the library community, so we would like to take this opportunity to provide some background information and an update on our involvement with this project.

Last summer we were approached by a group of law school deans and professors who asked if we would consider collaborating with U.S. News in regards to scholarly impact analysis. Because HeinOnline’s Law Journal Library contains comprehensive coverage of more than 2,700 legal periodicals, the group felt that it would be the most comprehensive source for such an analysis. Since HeinOnline has already created author profiles and begun performing citation analysis through our ScholarCheck tools, we felt this would be an opportunity to increase the overall value of HeinOnline by expanding the profiles and improving our analysis.

Our role in this project is to provide U.S. News with the citation metrics from HeinOnline. As for the methodology that will be used for their analysis, we will not be involved. The Hein company is not receiving any type of compensation for its work on this project; we simply felt that if U.S. News was going to proceed with such an analysis, HeinOnline would be a good source for the law review citation analysis.

The faculty rosters which were submitted to U.S. News as part of the survey they sent out in February have been sent to us to start to compile the author data. Our first goal is to associate each faculty name and its name variations with our author index. Internally we have constructed a data team who will be working on this large venture, developing tools to identify proper name variations and clean up any indexing errors within the author name index.

Once we have verified all faculty data within a law school, we will be sending the faculty roster along with URLs to each author’s HeinOnline profile page to the submitter of the U.S. News survey. If the contact from the U.S. News survey is not from the library, we will include a library contact as well.

While we process these faculty lists, we’ll also be further evaluating our ScholarCheck citation analysis. The traditional HeinOnline citation counts are derived by looking for official citation patterns (i.e. Bluebook). We are aware that, due to OCR errors, improper use of citations, or lack of an official citation, the current citation metrics are not perfect. Our development team has begun to work on alternate methods to locate citations within the text of the database, which we are confident will improve the metrics’ overall accuracy.

This project is a major undertaking, but we are committed to improving our data so that we can provide the most accurate results possible. Our mission remains to be first amongst equals and offer the best scholarly legal database to our customers, knowing that enhancing ScholarCheck and adding more analytics will improve the HeinOnline research experience. We appreciate all of the questions, comments, and concerns that we have received thus far.


Shane Marmion
President, William S. Hein & Co., Inc.

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