Paul Caron and Bernard Black have just posted their paper on using SSRN downloads to measure the scholarly performance of law faculties. I am very skeptical about using SSRN to measure performance, whether of individual faculty members or faculties as a whole. Still, the paper has lots of very interesting tidbits for SSRN followers out there. Among them is this interesting insight into the possible future of SSRN:
. . . SSRN already requires users to login before downloading a paper for ip addresses from which it has found a pattern of multiple downloads of the same paper. SSRN is likely to require users generally to login before downloading papers in the not too distant future. This should substantially limit the gaming potential that now exists.
Required login can also respond to other limitations of the downloads measure. It will permit development of more refined measures of a paper’s scholarly value. For example, downloads could be weighted, based on a metric of the quality downloader. Faculty downloads could be given greater weight than student downloads, for example.
Anyway, everyone should now go to SSRN to download Paul and Bernard’s paper, which will help boost their numbers and help out U Texas and Cincinnati in the rankings.