Recently a friend extolled the virtues of the Google Scholar database search tool. Among other useful functions, he said, if you’ve ever written any kind of scholarly article you can find out how often it has been cited and whether it has been the subject of favorable comment.
Really, I thought? That’s interesting. It so happens that, back in the Stone Age when I was in law school, I wrote two articles that were published in the Georgetown Law Journal. One addressed how to distinguish between statements of fact and opinions in evaluating the protection they received under the First Amendment. The other considered President Reagan’s use of the “pocket veto” and suggested a framework for analysis of the intersession pocket veto from a balance of powers standpoint.
Boy, just describing the subjects of those two articles is pretty riveting, isn’t it? With such fascinating topics, you’d expect those two articles, written in the leaden prose of law journals everywhere, to be high on everyone’s reading list.
So I couldn’t resist doing the Google Scholar searches. I’m disappointed to report that, in the 30 years (!) since the First Amendment article was published, it has been cited all of 13 times. Of course, I rationalized, the fact that the Supreme Court clarified the law within a few years of the publication of my well-reasoned piece probably cut down on the number of citations. Unfortunately, the other piece has been even more roundly ignored: it’s been cited only twice since it burst like a dung bomb upon the world of legal scholarship in 1984.
It’s embarrassing, I suppose . . . but then I suspect that most law journals articles are forgotten as soon as they are published. It’s nice to know that my two forays into scholarship also have been consigned to the ash heap of academic literature and are simply gathering dust in the stacks of law school libraries across the land.