As data have become more abundant, the appetite for data to be curated and
transformed into simplemetrics that can informdecision making has grown.
Yet what are the unintended consequences of establishing such measures?
Wendy Nelson Espeland and Michael Saunder’s new book, Engines of
Anxiety: Academic Rankings, Reputation, and Accountability, sheds light
on the effects of metrics by examining the role the U.S. News and World Report
(USN) law school rankings have had on legal education. Such an examination
begs for qualitative data, and the authors draw on an array of sources,
including interviews with law school students, deans, admissions staff, and
career services staff, law school marketing materials, law school applicants’
chat room discussions, media coverage of rankings, and their field notes from
site visits and professional meetings.