Citations Aren’t Enough: Academic Promotion and Scholar’s Presence in Popular Media


Scholars all around the world are almost solely judged upon their publications in (prestigious) peer-reviewed journals. Asit Biswas and Julian Kirchherr argue that publications in the popular media must count as well. After all, these publications are crucial in informing practitioners’ decision-making.

Many of the world’s most talented thinkers may be university professors, but sadly most of them do not shape today’s public debates or influence policies. Indeed, scholars often frown upon publishing in the popular media. “Running an opinion editorial to share my views with the public? Sounds like activism to me”, a professor recently noted at a conference, hosted by the University of Oxford. The absence of professors from shaping public debates and policies seems to have exacerbated in recent years, particularly in the social sciences. Even debates among scholars do not seem to function properly.

Up to 1.5 million peer-reviewed articles are published annually. However, many are ignored even within the scientific community: 82 percent of articles published in humanities are not even cited once. Rarely do scholars refer to 32 percent of the peer-reviewed articles in the social and 27 percent in the natural sciences.

If a paper is cited, though, this does not imply it has actually been read. According to one estimate, only 20 percent of papers citedhave actually been read. We suspect that an average paper in a peer-reviewed journal is read completely at most by no more than 10 people. Hence, impacts of most peer-reviewed publications even within the scientific community are miniscule.

knowledge policyImage credit: oscar cesare (Wikimedia, Public Domain)

Many scholars aspire to contribute to their discipline’s knowledge and to influence practitioner’s decision-making. However, it is widely acknowledged practitioners rarely read articles published in peer-reviewed journals. We know of no senior policy-maker, or senior business leader who ever reads any peer-reviewed papers, even in recognized journals like Nature, Science or The Lancet. No wonder: First of all, most journals are prohibitively expensive to access for anyone outside of academia. Even if the current open-access-movement becomes more successful, the incomprehensible jargon and the sheer volume and lengths of papers (mostly unnecessary!) would still prevent practitioners (including journalists) from reading them. Original Source (LSE Impact of Social Sciences)

Why is Sociology Valuable?


Steve Rose PhD

3ATY4m1Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper has made several public comments suggesting that sociology is irrelevant to matters of crime. Last year he used the humorous phrase, “now is not the time to commit sociology.” This year, his anti-sociological sentiment was revealed once again in his comment stating that crime against aboriginal women is not a sociological phenomenon.

The Prime Minister suggests that the police and the criminal justice system are the appropriate response, rather than investigating crime sociologically. His reason is that these are individual criminal acts, not symptoms of problematic social structures.

Harpers comments are not necessarily anti-intellectual. Rather, they are just anti-sociological, As suggested by Jakeet Singh in The Star, his comments are the result of a neo-liberal ideology of individualism:

Harper received a degree in economics and supports the merits of a global free-market, giving him a valid reason why he holds an anti-sociological…

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The Life Changing Wisdom of Sociology

Wisdom of Sociology

Can Sociology be life changing? That’s what Sam Richards argues in this thought provoking TED talk which explores how the discipline can lead us to reimagine our circumstances and see those connections which we otherwise miss – it reveals hidden commonalities and the vast network of relations within which we are all embedded.

How can an academic discipline like Sociology be life changing? This talk suggests one way by exploring how sociologists teach us to re-imagine our personal problems and ourselves. In the end, we learn that even in our most private and seemingly isolated moments, we may be more connected to others than we realize.