Thursday, June 23, 2011

SSRN Patent Professor Rankings

Which patent law professors had the most SSRN downloads in the past year? While there are certainly many problems with using SSRN downloads for rankings, it can still be an informative metric, so I am going to again import a useful series from TaxProf Blog into the IP setting. SSRN's list (login required) was last updated on 6/6/11, and here's a ranking by "Total New Downloads," which tracks "Total downloads for the last 365 days for all the author's papers in the SSRN eLibrary." Inclusion on this list is based on my subjective assessment of whether the person could count as a "patent professor" or "patent scholar" (based on a quick look at his or her SSRN page); if you think I missed someone, please let me know!
  1. Mark Lemley (Stanford)
  2. Thomas Field (New Hampshire)
  3. Ted Sichelman (UCSD)
  4. Peter Menell (Berkeley)
  5. Robert Merges (Berkeley)
  6. Lee Petherbridge (Loyola)
  7. Gregory Mandel (Temple)
  8. Dennis Crouch (Missouri)
  9. Scott Hemphill (Columbia)
  10. Dan Burk (Irvine)
  11. Rochelle Dreyfuss (NYU)
  12. Jason Rantanen (Iowa)
  13. Jay Kesan (Illinois)
  14. Shamnad Basheer (West Bengal National University)
  15. James Bessen (Research on Innovation)
  16. Gideon Parchomovsky (Penn)
  17. Ralph Clifford (U Mass Dartmouth)
  18. Jonathan Masur (Chicago)
  19. Ronald Mann (Columbia)
  20. Christopher Cotropia (Richmond)
A rather male list, isn't it? At least Professor Dreyfuss is on there!

If you think this list is useful, and you would like to see it (a) updated in the future, (b) extended beyond the top 20, or (c) based on a different SSRN metric (like total downloads or downloads per paper), let me know in the comments! Maybe "new downloads per paper" would be a decent way to identify younger scholars (and possibly more women?), since older professors would get weighed down by having lots of older papers that are no longer receiving many downloads in the denominator?


  1. Two more problems with using SSRN rankings, as emailed by a reader:

    (1) Co-authors each receive full credit for downloads. For example, my SSRN author page shows that a recently uploaded paper on which I am one of seven authors has quickly surpassed my four single-author papers in downloads, but I think it is wrong to interpret this as a sign that my scholarly impact has skyrocketed. This problem might be solved by using SSRN's "Author-Level Eigenfactor," which "adjusts for the number of authors of the paper," though it depends on SSRN citation data.

    (2) Some patent scholars have many downloads for non-patent pieces. I'm sure that if I posted a short and frivolous essay on SSRN titled something like "How To Get Your Article Accepted by The Yale Law Journal" (answer: write an outstanding article), it would soon have more downloads than my patent pieces, but it wouldn't make me a better patent scholar. And even if the highly downloaded articles are serious scholarship, I don't think they should be included in a measure of patent impact. But going through and counting downloads for patent articles only is more work than I want to do. :)

  2. Also note the huge impact of blogging. For example, Jason Rantanen and Lee Petherbridge's Therasense article currently has 2100 downloads, which is surely due to Rantanen writing about it in two Patently-O blog posts. Which doesn't mean it isn't a great piece -- I'm just not convinced that it is almost 20x better than Scott Hemphill and Bhaven Sampat's article that I blogged about yesterday, for example.

  3. As a further illustration of the above points about the problems with using SSRN rankings for anything: on the 7/9/11 rankings, I have 2251 new downloads, which would surely put me on an updated version of this list (Dennis Crouch has 1883, Scott Hemphill has 2037, etc.), but my explosion in downloads was entirely due to this co-authored non-patent paper, which was linked from many major blogs. This certainly does not mean that I am one of the most influential/important patent scholars of the past year!

  4. The ranking by downloads may not be the the best, but at least it shows which publications readers want to read. It is a very important measure of impact and relevance as far as the readers are concerned. Again it may not be perfect, but at least it gives comfort to writers that there people out there who are interested in their even not- so- perfect work. A vote of impartial public confidence, if you want. Good work SSRN.