Scientific advancement or paper inflation?

The body of available management literature has grown considerably during the past years. A search in Thompson Reuters’ ISI Web of Knowledge shows 19,143 articles published in the journals listed in the Journal Citation Reports for Busines and Management in 2013. Meaning 52.4 new articles were published per day – or one every 27.5 minutes. These numbers have almost doubled since 2003 when “only” 30.9 articles were published per day. And they are more than five times as much as 1993 (9.7 articles per day).

But how may we interpret these numbers? Is this increase a sign of scientific advancement, as treated by most rankings and performance-management systems? Or does it indicate a dysfunctional “inflation” of publications without further enlarging the scientific knowledge-base?

Either way, the vast majority of publications are rarely recognized by the scientific community (i.e. cited) at all. Of course, it’s not possible for scholars to keep up with the development of management science by reading all published articles. But considering this trend, we should ask ourselves wether there are more effective ways to communicate our scholarly results and to contribute to the development of new knowledge.

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