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  • Alon Harel

A Dialogue on Scientific Progress

This parody was written after the Hebrew University Law Faculty decided to use quantitative methods to measure the quality of scholarship. The first dialogue is conducted between two assistant professors in 1990 and the second a dialogue between the same professors in 2015

Dialogue 1 (1990)

Assistant Professor Porat: I just completed a paper on judicial review. I argue that judicial review is justified for non-instrumental reasons and not on the basis of utility considerations.

Assistant Professor Harel: Really? I always thought that judicial review is justified because judges protect better human rights.

Assistant Professor Porat: This is unclear. Empirical research does not support this conclusion. Read the paper by Shinaar. He has evidence that this is not the case. It is brilliant.

Assistant Professor Harel: Please send me the paper. I am intrigued by the thesis.

Dialogue 2 (2015) (Both Porat and Harel got tenure and were promoted to full professors)

Professor Porat: I just completed a paper on judicial review. I argue that judicial review is justified for non-instrumental reasons and not on the basis of utility considerations.

Professor Harel: I remember somebody wrote about it in Harvard Law Review. It must be a really hot topic. I do not remember who wrote or what is written there. It does not matter; it got into Harvard. Where did you send it?

Professor Porat: I sent it to law reviews. Duke Law Journal is interested. Do you want to hear the argument?

Professor Harel: Wait a minute. I do not have time for these nonsense. How many cites do you have on Google Scholar?

Professor Porat: I checked three minutes and thirty second ago. I have 750. Wait a minute (checking the cellular). It is still 750. Shit. But on SSRN there are many downloads. Wait a minute. Let me check again. You know I found a trick to increase the number of downloads on SSRN. I asked the secretaries to use all the faculty computers to download my articles. Even Grandma bought a new computer and downloaded my articles from SSRN. She even outsourced this job to all the residents of her nursing home.

Professor Harel: I have 820 in Google but only 4000 on SSRN (three minutes ago). I put a post in my Facebook asking all my friends to download from SSRN. It triggered 8 downloads. Let us get back to your article. Did you cite me? You remember that I cited you in my article on the legal status of the balls of whales which joined ISIS?

Professor Porat: Do not worry. You are cited 5 times.

Professor Harel: Did you do expedited?

Professor Porat: Yes I did but no answer yet. Harvard rejected. Chicago did not answer. Virginia does not accept any articles.

Professor Harel: Call the editors. I think the editor at Michigan likes to collect stamps. She is also republican. Write in a footnote that you oppose gay marriage. What names did you mention in the acknowledgment?

Professor Porat: I added in the acknowledgement the names of Cardozo. Holmes Obama and Moses. Just in case there is a Jew on the editorial board. Perhaps I should add Joseph Smith in case there is a Mormon there. I also changed the title to a new really catchy title: Law and the Grand Theory of Everything.

Professor Harel: Add some regressions. Empirical is really trendy.

Professor Porat: But this is not an empirical paper.

Professor Harel: It does not matter. You just need to get it in.

Professor Porat: Great idea. If it is rejected where should I sent it?

Professor Harel: Journal of Legal Studies is ranked high on Leiter.

Professor Porat: But the argument is philosophical not economic. JLS publishes only economic stuff.

Professor Harel: Does not matter. Write that judicial review is designed to promote efficiency and that Pareto was a constitutional law Justice. Do not forget to cite my article dealing with the legal status of horny hedgehogs in a global world; a thorny piece. 15 cites already in one year.

Professor Porat: Great thanks

Professor Harel: We learnt something since the 1990's. Do you remember? We used to ask then what the article is about. We did not care about rankings or cites; we were young.

Professor Porat: Yes there was no google scholar or SSRN then. How did they know what the value of the article is? Did they count cites manually? Must be very time consuming.

Professor Harel: If I recall…Let me think. We read the articles and judged them on the basis of content.

Professor Porat: No this cannot be the case! We could not have so much time. When did we write posts on Facebook and twitter?

Professor Harel: I remember` we really read the articles. We were obsessive about the content of the articles. Strange!

Professor Porat: Sounds like Stone Age. Without google scholar and SSRN. We have progressed since then. There is real progress in science.

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