How badly and how little social scientists read (Parting thoughts from the APSR editors)

Articles are too often cited, by authors and by referees, as making the exact opposite of the argument they actually advanced. Long books are noted, with a wave of the rhetorical hand but without the mundane encumbrance of specific page or even chapter references; and highly relevant literatures, even in leading political science journals, are frequently ignored.

From Notes from the Editors, in the current issue of APSR.

Another excellent line:

[we] note a pattern accurately described by one co-editor: increasing engagement across sub-disciplines, sustained fratricide within them.

I would say the problems apply equally to economists. The reading is certainly no better and, as a colleague of mine said last year, “development economists eat their own young”.

34 thoughts on “How badly and how little social scientists read (Parting thoughts from the APSR editors)

  1. I don’t find it astonishing at all. I’ve heard stories of thesis papers with references that the author had never read and that no one bothers to check.

    Just look at the amount of citations an average paper gives. To read what authors are claiming to read for thier work frequently means reading astronomical amounts.