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"Empiricism and the Rising Incidence of Co-authorship in Law"

  • Publication: University of Illinois Law Review

2011, Tom Ginsburg, University of Illinois Law Review

“Empiricism and the Rising Incidence of Co-authorship in Law” (with T. Miles), University of Illinois Law Review (2011)

The recent growth of empirical scholarship in law, which some have termed “empirical legal studies,” has received much attention. A less noticed implication of this trend is its potential impact on the manner of scholarly production in legal academia. A common prediction is that academic collaboration rises with scholarly specialization. As the complexity of a field grows, more and more diverse types of human capital are needed to make a contribution. This paper presents two tests of whether empiricism has spurred more co-authorship in law. First, the paper shows that the fraction of articles in the top fifteen law reviews that were empirical or co-authored (or both) trended upwards between 2000 and 2010. The increase in empirical articles accounted for a substantial share of the growth in co-authored articles, and the correlation between co-authorship and empiricism persisted after controlling for numerous other influences. Second, the paper examines the articles published since 1989 in two prominent, faculty-edited journals specializing in law & economics: the Journal of Legal Studies and the Journal of Law, Economics & Organization. Co-authored articles were far more common in these journals than in the general-interest, student-edited law reviews – a pattern which itself is consistent with the specialization hypothesis. The share of articles without empirical analysis or formal models in these journals plummeted over this period, while co-authorship rose sharply. These results support the view that specialization, and specifically the growth of empirical scholarship, has contributed to the trend of co-authorship in legal academia.

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