Academic Journals: More Is Less

Tyler Cowen laments the splitting of the quarterly American Economic Review into multiple, monthly journals.

I don’t intend any criticism of the editors, as it seems (based on a mere perusal) they have done a good job in each case. But the coming of the American Economic Review was for me an event to look forward to. Now it feels like a bunch of journals are crossing my desk and I wish to be done with them. If they are going to expand, I would rather get just one more additional journal. Maybe it’s not actually an advantage that they can publish more articles; somehow they all seem less important and I feel as if the real quantity of research — defined in part by its salience to a broad community — has gone down.

I’ve long felt that way about poli-sci journals.  As ridiculously hard as it is to get published in significant journals, the vast majority of articles in even the most prestigious are of no interest to non-specialists.  That’s fine for highly specialized journals, aimed at a sub-sub-specialty, but makes no sense for flagship journals of an entire discipline.

FILED UNDER: Education, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. davod says:

    Academic Journals: More Is Less:

    Do Law Reviews come under the category of Academic journals. I hope so.

    I did not realize what an effect these journals have on real people until I read an article about how many times the courts refer to Law Review articles in their rulings. The same article then explained how some groups took over the management of particular Law Reviews and ensured their view of how the laws should be was front and center. These articles were then used as justification by some judges to change the law.

    After a quick search I could not find the article I read. I am sure the lawyers among the readers would have no difficulty locating he article/s in one of the legal reference data bases.