Page and Reference Counts: AER versus AJS

24 September 2009 at 11:42 am 5 comments

| Peter Klein |

Thanks to Teppo for linking to these interesting graphs. Since 1960, the page count and reference list of the average American Journal of Sociology article have risen dramatically, while those for the American Economic Review have remained about the same. I’d be curious to see these figures for the Academy of Management periodicals as well. What explains these trends? Are sociologists simply more verbose than economists?

Update: Here are some more graphs, this time including ASQ and Management Science, as well as some additional sociology journals. ASQ and MS appear to be somewhere in the middle.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Methods/Methodology/Theory of Science.

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mark  |  24 September 2009 at 1:40 pm

    According to the data, yes, sociologists are more verbose than economists! Now, is that an individual preference, or an institutionalized norm to which they are conforming? :)

  • 2. stevphel  |  24 September 2009 at 6:36 pm

    My paper on the first twenty years of the SMJ also indicates an increase in page counts and references:

    Click to access PhelanFerreiraSalvador_The%20first%20twenty%20years%20of%20the%20SMJ.pdf

    so it’s not just sociologists ;-)

  • 3. srp  |  24 September 2009 at 6:59 pm

    Hypothesis: Management and sociology reviewers expect every article to read like a literature review. As a result, more and more citations are needed over time as the literature grows and each article becomes longer. Economists are a lot less concerned with who said what in the past (to the extent of occasionally publishing results that were already published years before) and so their articles do not get longer over time.

  • 4. stevphel  |  24 September 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Some have attributed it to a lack of a dominant paradigm in management and sociology so there is more space needed to justify a position whereas economists can just talk about their contribution.

  • 5. sycophant  |  25 September 2009 at 12:23 am

    Drawing on the work of Derek J. de Solla Price, Robert K. Merton noted, in 1968, that 60 to 70 percent of citations in the physical sciences referred to publications of the preceding five years; in the humanities the figures ranged from 10 to 20 percent; and in the social sciences the figures ranged from 30 to 50 percent. Indeed it is likely that in the social sciences, economics articles were citing more recent publications, and less of them. Yet, my sense is that since the 1960s the pattern of citations in sociology articles has also changed, and there has been a move in all the social sciences toward the pattern of citations of the physical sciences.

    Isaac W.

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