As volume of articles in social science journals increases, scholarly publication slows

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A study by the Academic Analytics Research Center (AARC) published in the journal PLOS ONE found that the social sciences are changing: over the past decade, publication of journal articles has increased, while book publication has decreased. The overall increase in scholarly journal articles over the past few decades is widely documented, but whether this increase has an impact on other types of publications is unknown. “The majority of publications in most STEM fields are journal articles, but in the social sciences books also play an important role in how researchers communicate their findings, so the social sciences were a great place to explore publication patterns,” the study’s co-author said. Anthony J. Olejniczak.

The study explored publishing patterns throughout the 2010s in more than 1,500 academic departments at 280 US research universities across twelve social science disciplines. Book publications decreased by 34% to 54% over the study period, while journal article publications increased by 64%. According to co-author William Savage, “The evolution of research methodologies and the emergence of performance-based funding mechanisms have dramatically changed the way social scientists approach research dissemination. Increased collaboration through research teams, an accelerated pace of publication and timely delivery of results to funding agencies drives all social scientists toward peer-reviewed journal articles rather than books.”

A decline in book authorship has been observed across all age cohorts, although rising expectations of journal article publication for early-career researchers may contribute to changing behaviors. edition observed. The decline in books published is likely to have an impact on library acquisition strategies.

The authors also note that the decline in book publication “…can have adverse effects on the social science disciplines most closely related to the humanities. Long-form scholarly publishing provides the venue and space to explore a topic in detail, analyzing topics with greater journal article form generally permitting,” commented Richard Wheeler, Dean Emeritus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Senior Advisor to the AARC ( which was not part of the study).”With remarkable accuracy, this study demonstrates trends in social science publishing patterns in the 2010s and identifies factors external and internal to the research itself that have led to significant changes. Their findings will likely spur further studies exploring the many issues raised by the data, including an accelerated dissolution of an ancient kinship between social science and humanities disciplines.”


Comprehensive scholarly publishing dataset shows publication rates in 170 disciplines at US universities


More information:
William E. Savage et al, More Journal Articles and Fewer Books: Social Science Publishing Practices in the 2010s, PLOS ONE (2022). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0263410

Provided by Academic Analytics Research Center (AARC)

Quote: As Volume of Social Science Journal Articles Increases, Publication of Academic Books Slows (February 3, 2022) Retrieved February 3, 2022, from https://phys.org/news/2022-02-volume-social- science-journal-articles .html

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