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Caveat Emptor

The opinions expressed on this page are mine alone. Any similarities to the views of my employer are completely coincidental.

Monday, 17 November 2014

What have you been reading?

Kieran Healey has produced a fascinating graphic of the number of citations of the 10 most cited sociology journal articles in each decade from the 1950s onwards. He has a nice discussion of it which I won't repeat here. Several things struck me though. Of the 14 journals  that produced top 10 articles over the last 60 years or so 13 are American and 1 is British. Perhaps not too surprising but food for thought when and if metrics become used in the UK  to measure research quality. 

What did surprise me a little though is how few of the 60 articles I've actually read. I counted 13 that I've read with a modest degree of seriousness and 7 of those are "classics" from the 50s (and before) and 60s. That leaves just 6 from the last 40 years. These are supposed to be the moving and shaking articles and I've never heard of most of them.

So what should I conclude from this? One possible conclusion is that I'm an ignorant fellow who doesn't keep up with the literature. I'd be interested to know exactly how ignorant. Would anyone else like to reveal their own personal tally ? Be honest.

Another possibility is that American and European sociology are actually quite different intellectual worlds with rather different preoccupations and hence rather different reading and citation patterns. It would be odd to talk about American and European economics - or at least I've not heard my economics colleagues discussing their discipline in that way - in a way that it might make sense to talk about American and British sociology.

I'm primarily interested in my own society and that is reflected in what I read.


Anonymous said...

Honestly? 7.

matthew bond said...


Anonymous said...

Gee, just 6 here...

Kolbeinn said...

4, browsed 8. Have further 5 on my hard drive, my resolve to read them at some unspecified time in the not too distant future as firm as the day I downloaded them (some years ago).