Having received the guest bogger’s dreaded “here’s your hat, what’s your hurry” from Dan Solove, I thought I’d sign off (and make way for my colleague Rachel Godsil who will undoubtedlly be far more re interesting than I), with a final entry on easing the plight of the scholar.
A perennial complaint of the legal scholar is the difficulty of keeping up with the literature. (Admittedly, the non-academic world, especially the part of it that moves heavy things, is not likely to be sympathetic to our travails, but we’re speaking within the club here).
One time-honored solution, of course, is to re-define one’s field into smaller and smaller fragments, thus excluding increasingly larger amounts of material from that about which one must know. This has its limitations, however. I don’t mean logical limitations because, like particle physics, any field can apparently be reduced to progressively smaller parts. The limits are mostly loss of credibility among colleagues and students when a supposed expert really doesn’t know much about the next quark over.
Anyhow, the problem, as I see it, that we don’t have a simple device to help us decide what’s worth reading. Our cousins in the bench and bar have such a mechanism for the tools of their trade –Shepards for Lexis and whatever West calls its imitation. But there’s no similar labor-saving device for scholarship. Thiink of how much easier our lives would be with some version of this for our articles: