May 22, 2022

Journal Article: “More Journal Articles and Fewer Books: Publication Practices in the Social Sciences in the 2010’s”

The article linked below was recently published by PLOS One.


More Journal Articles and Fewer Books: Publication Practices in the Social Sciences in the 2010’s


William E. Savage
Academic Analytics Research Center (AARC)

Anthony J. Olejniczak
Academic Analytics Research Center (AARC)


PLoS ONE 17(2): e0263410
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0263410


The number of scholarly journal articles published each year is growing, but little is known about the relationship between journal article growth and other forms of scholarly dissemination (e.g., books and monographs). Journal articles are the de facto currency of evaluation and prestige in STEM fields, but social scientists routinely publish books as well as articles, representing a unique opportunity to study increased article publications in disciplines with other dissemination options. We studied the publishing activity of social science faculty members in 12 disciplines at 290 Ph.D. granting institutions in the United States between 2011 and 2019, asking: 1) have publication practices changed such that more or fewer books and articles are written now than in the recent past?; 2) has the percentage of scholars actively participating in a particular publishing type changed over time?; and 3) do different age cohorts evince different publication strategies? In all disciplines, journal articles per person increased between 3% and 64% between 2011 and 2019, while books per person decreased by at least 31% and as much as 54%. All age cohorts show increased article authorship over the study period, and early career scholars author more articles per person than the other cohorts in eight disciplines. The article-dominated literature of the social sciences are becoming increasingly similar to those of STEM disciplines.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.