Who reads academic papers?

It turns out that no one does, not even academics! According to this devious but brilliant little paper published in the journal Complex Systems by Mikhail Simkin and Vwani Roychowdhury, researchers at UCLA who found an ingenious way [*] of estimating what fraction of academics actually read the papers they cite, the truth is that most “scholars” do not bother to read all the papers that they themselves cite in their published works. (Alas, the paper does not distinguish between tenured and untenured scholars. It would be interesting to measure which of these two groups of academics is engaged in greater amounts of scholarly deception.)

[*] Without getting into the technical details of their paper, suffice it to say that their method focuses on the distribution of misprints in citations.


Hat tips to xkcd for the cartoon and to Spartacus for taking me to Daniel Luzer.

About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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