Data Analysis



Samuel Fox Krauss

Within the literature on legal scholarship, academics have studied citation practices. For example, scholars have examined which authors, journals, and articles are most cited. But no one has examined which parts of articles scholars cite. Understanding which parts of articles scholars cite is not only intrinsically interesting, but also could inform how authors structure articles. This Note presents the results of a unique, hand-coded dataset of thousands of pinpoint citations. In brief: Authors are more likely to cite the beginning of articles but split their remaining citations roughly evenly. This pattern holds across flagship journals of variously ranked law schools and articles of varying length, but it is less pronounced for self-citation. While cynical explanations—that cite-worthy content is concentrated at the beginning, or authors tend not to thoroughly read the articles they cite—of the data is possible, a better explanation serves as a modest rebuttal to certain criticisms of legal scholarship.