Most academics value scholarly recognition and seem to welcome it from any source. In corporate and securities law, scholars make a great deal out of which articles are voted among the 12 or so “best” in the annual poll by Corporate Practice Commentator (Robert Thompson, editor). Recent blog posts at Leiter Reports, Securities Law Prof, and Conglomerate are examples of the current discussion.
Maybe poll results, with their democratic flavor, are meaningful substantively. Yet at least as meaningful, but not enjoying the same celebrity status, is selection of the 16 articles reprinted to form the Commentator’s annual bound volume. In contrast to polling, this selection reflects scholarly judgment backed by the costs and stakes of publishing.
From 1994 to 2004 (Volumes 35-45), the Commentator reprinted 179 articles and the period’s “best of” polls produced 112 favorites. Only 30 articles appeared in both the volumes and the polls. The small overlap reflects the different procedures and purposes of the poll compared to the publication decision. No doubt, scholars are happy to be in either category. But if one cannot be in both, which is preferred and why? Should more attention be given to pieces selected for publication or those voted in the poll? (Disclosure: one article of mine was selected for publication and none voted tops in the polls.)