Most-Cited Health Law Scholars in WestLaw, 2013-2017

By Mark A. Hall and I. Glenn Cohen

This post updates the ranking of health law scholars we posted last year (using 2010-2014 data), based on the latest law faculty citation analysis done by Greg Sisk (which covers 2013-2017). As before, we are following the steps Brian Leiter uses to compile “most-cited” rankings of tenured law faculty in a number of other subject areas.

Health law (as many people conceive it) is a broad field that includes bioethics, biotechnology, medical malpractice, health care finance and regulation, health policy, and public health.  Therefore, to supplement the Sisk data, we include health law scholars beyond those based at law schools.

We started with the latest data from Sisk, which records citations in WestLaw’s Journal and Law Review database, 2013-2017, for full-time tenured law professors currently active at 99 ABA-accredited law schools. For those who ranked the highest, we double checked Sisk’s count and corrected for a couple of alternative name spellings/nicknames (e.g., “Hank” Greely, Michelle (sic) Goodwin).  Also, when Sisk’s sampling method for “false positives” (cites that point to someone else) resulted in more than a 25% reduction in a scholar’s total count (e.g., Mark Hall, Susan Wolf), we reviewed their entire citation list to remove false positives, rather than using Sisk’s extrapolation from a sampling of the latest 50 cites.[1]

We supplemented the Sisk data by doing citation counts (using his same methods) for an additional two dozen prominent health law scholars who are not on the Sisk list because they are at lower-ranked schools (according to U.S. News & World Report) or are based at schools of medicine or public health (e.g., Lori Andrews, Aaron Kesselheim, Sara Rosenbaum).  We identified these additional scholars from membership in leading professional groups (primarily, American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics) and based on our own knowledge of the literature.

To ensure maximum comparability between these rankings and those for other legal fields, we conform to Leiter’s presentation, which entails, among other things: 1) classifying faculty as health law scholars only if publications in this field accounted for about 3/4 or more of their more recent citations; 2) showing a limited set of other highly-cited scholars with a plurality, but not a substantial majority, of citations in the field; and 3) rounding citation counts to the nearest five. Thus, the rankings should be read to rank those who are cited for their publications in health law, rather than simply those who teach in the area or for whom the plurality of citations is to their work in other fields.

Before we present the results, we emphasize that while citation-based rankings can be useful, it is important to evaluate them in context; this requires understanding their benefits, but also their drawbacks – for which Sisk al. have a good discussion. In the context of health law specifically, an additional limitation is worth emphasizing: this ranking is based on citations in legal periodicals but much of our field’s work is cited in medical, public health, health policy, bioethics, and other journals. Publications in those journals that are cited in legal periodicals are captured, but Westlaw does not capture health law citations that occur in non-law journals.  Accordingly, to provide a fuller picture we have worked with David Studdert to generate an alternative ranking, below, based on citations in the Web of Science database.

In addition, Westlaw searches miscount citations to multi-authored publications in a potentially important way, as discussed here.  In what we refer as the “ghost author” problem, most law journals truncate citations to articles with more than two authors by citing to only the first author’s name followed by “et al”.  As Sisk explains, this is much less of an issue when averaging across a school’s entire faculty, as he does, but this truncation can result in a substantial undercount when ranking individual scholars.  Moreover, as we noted last year, health law is an interdisciplinary field where multi-authored publication (and especially more than two authors) is more common than many other fields of law. Thus, the ghost author problem is potentially a significant one for our ranking, meriting more refinement of the standard Sisk/Leiter method.

With these caveats in mind, here are the results.

Twenty Most-Cited Health Law Faculty 2013-2017 (inclusive)
Rank Name School Citations
1 Gostin, Lawrence O. (Larry) Georgetown 435
2 Hall, Mark A. Wake Forest 385
3 Hyman, David Georgetown 300
4 Cohen, I. Glenn Harvard 280
5 Noah, Lars Florida 235
6 Bagley, Nicholas Michigan 230
7 Mello, Michelle M. Stanford 225
8 Kesselheim, Aaron Harvard 220
9 Rothstein, Mark Louisville 215
10 Furrow, Barry R. Drexel 205
10 Rosenbaum, Sara George Washington 205
12 Goodwin, Michele California – Irvine 195
13 Annas, George J. Boston University 190
14 Orentlicher, David UNLV 185
15 Andrews, Lori Chicago-Kent 175
15 Greely, Henry T. (Hank) Stanford 175
17 Sage, William M. Texas 170
18 Hoffman, Sharona Case Western 165
19 Huberfeld, Nicole Boston University 155
20 Burris, Scott C. Temple 140


Other highly-cited scholars with substantial work in health law

Gluck, Abbe R. Yale 580
Schneider, Carl E. Michigan 405
Rai, Arti K. Duke 395
Bonnie, Richard J. Virginia 280
Wilson, Robin Fretwell Illinois 265


Additional highly-cited scholars that have a significant number, but not a plurality, of citations in health law, include: Einer Elhauge (Harvard, 645), Jonathan Adler (Case Western, 620), Russell Korobkin (UCLA, 610), Bernie Black (NwU, 515), Frank Pasquale (Maryland, 400) and Tom Baker (Penn, 386).  Keen observers will note that last year’s rankings included these scholars in our primary tables.  However, this time we chose, for sake of comparability and standardization, to adhere more closely to Leiter’s approach for making judgment calls about how to categorize scholars in the field.

[1] Sisk’s extrapolation method is acceptable when averaging across a school’s entire faculty (especially when evaluating thousands of scholars), but, when ranking individual scholars in a single field, greater precision is desirable and feasible.

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