The Right Coast

August 24, 2005
By Mike Rappaport

Tom's studies of citations are extremely interesting, but let me just mention one caveat about all citation studies: they are a pretty imprecise way of studying influence. They may be the best we have, but they are very imperfect.

People often do not cite the articles they read and they often cite articles they don't read.

I often do not cite articles that I read. Indeed, if I read an article from beginning to end, it is because I am interested in the subject and not because I need the cite. So when the time comes to get a cite, I may simply forget to cite to that article.

While I would never do such a thing, I know that many legal scholars cite articles that they have not read. They need a cite for a specific proposition, so they go to Lexis and find something that says what they want. So they only read a small portion of the article.