Lifestyle Publish2

Published on August 10th, 2012


Publish or Perish

In modern social science the aspiring academic is measured by his or her publications. There are several academic outlets where you can get your work presented.

There exists a hierarchy of status when it comes to academic outlets:

1)      Peer reviewed journal articles

2)      Books

3)      Book chapters

However, it is not a strict hierarchy as there is some overlap, depending on the journal and the publisher. This hierarchy is also useful in the writing process, as it gives us a way to choose the “best” sources for our paper or thesis. The specific works (and also the journals) can be ranked based on the number of times it is cited by other academics. Yet, one must also take into consideration that newer works are less cited than older works. All other things equal, newer works are often considered “better” than older ones. And you must not forget the most important thing: the works you cite must be of relevance for your research question or hypotheses.



Citations are important because ideas are the currency of academic research. Therefore, a researcher wants to accumulate that currency and get credit for their contributions. One can say that when a writer cites ideas, that writer is honoring those who came up with those ideas. Citing also enables the student or researcher to trace the genealogy of the ideas, that is, one can go back and find out who first came up with that particular theoretical argument or finding.


Present day scientists are sometimes judged by the number of times their work has been cited by other academics. This implies that you should be motivated to have your own work cited as early and widely as possible. There exist different citation indexes. One is the ISI Web of Knowledge (, which provides bibliographical content and the tools to access, analyze, and manage research information for those academic journals registered in the database. Google scholar ( is a web search engine that does a broader search of scholarly literature. It also provides number of citations. However, it differs from ISI web of knowledge in that it includes citations from all sorts of works (working papers, journal papers etc.).

Academic journals

Academic Journals are ranked according to their articles’ average citations. Rankings may differ from year to year. The journal’s so-called impact factor is a measure reflecting the average number of citations to recent articles published. It is frequently used as a proxy for the relative importance of a journal in its field.


The most important journals in political science, sociology, psychology, and history are:

Political science

American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, and International Organization.


American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, British Journal of Sociology, and Annual Review of Sociology.


Archives of General Psychiatry, Annual Review of Psychology, Psychological Bulletin, and Psychological Review.


American Historical Review, Environmental History, Journal of American History, and Social Science History.

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