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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Rankings study with very small sample size acknowledges problems.

In yesterday's TaxProf Blog post about various "top 10" rankings (here), we were dismayed to see Boyd listed in a category in which it most emphatically doesn't belong.  When I wrote to the author of these top ten lists, he responded by asking TaxProf Blog to add an asterisk to the part of the post dealing with "Career Baristas":
* Caution is in order for any ordinal ranking, but in a category like this, where the percentages are low, small numbers may appear large. For instance, the University of Akron has just 9 graduates in this category but ranks first; the University of North Dakota, just 5 graduates but ranks second; the University of Nevada—Las Vegas, just 6 graduates, but ranks third.
What are the facts?  Here's what I told Prof. Muller in an email yesterday:
Here's why Boyd’s inclusion on the Top 10 list of “Career Baristas” is materially misleading.  The percentage of graduates in non-professional, full-time, long-term positions listed for each of the schools in this “Top 10” is minuscule compared to the graduates employed in other types of jobs.  At Boyd, in a class of 128 graduates, six graduates (4.7%) were employed in non-professional, full-time, long-term positions as of February 15, 2012.  Based on these six graduates, Boyd is listed as the #3 top school in the nation for “Career Baristas.”  Meanwhile, 85 (66.4%) of Boyd’s class of 2011 was employed in full-time, long-term positions for which bar passage is required, and another 6 (4.7%) were employed in full-time, long-term positions where a JD provided an advantage.  A full 75% of the class, 96 students total, was employed in full-time or part-time long term positions that require bar passage or a JD.  Further, none of these positions are funded by the law school. 
The Top 10 list itself creates confusion because it is based on such a small percentage of the overall class.  It is particularly misleading in the case of Boyd because it is based on six graduates, providing an incomplete and distorted view of the employment prospects for Boyd students.
I'm glad that he added an asterisk.  (I'd have loved a broader retraction, but as long as folks understand the real story, that's the point of my having written to him.)