Writing That Is Never Read

November 23, 2016

It is inevitable in college that you were forced to write an essay.  Writing an essay usually requires the citation of various sources from scholarly journals.  As you perused the academic articles, the thought probably crossed your mind: who ever reads this stuff?  Smithsonian Magazine tells us who in the article, “Academics Write Papers Arguing Over How Many People Read (And Cite) Their Papers.”  In other words, themselves.

Academic articles are read mostly by their authors, journal editors, and the study’s author write, and students forced to cite them for assignments.  In perfect scholarly fashion, many academics do not believe that their work has a limited scope.  So what do they do?  They decided to write about it and have done so for twenty years.

Most academics are not surprised that most written works go unread.  The common belief is that it is better to publish something rather than nothing and it could also be a requirement to keep their position.  As they are prone to do, academics complain about the numbers and their accuracy:

It seems like this should be an easy question to answer: all you have to do is count the number of citations each paper has. But it’s harder than you might think. There are entire papers themselves dedicated to figuring out how to do this efficiently and accurately. The point of the 2007 paper wasn’t to assert that 50 percent of studies are unread. It was actually about citation analysis and the ways that the internet is letting academics see more accurately who is reading and citing their papers. “Since the turn of the century, dozens of databases such as Scopus and Google Scholar have appeared, which allow the citation patterns of academic papers to be studied with unprecedented speed and ease,” the paper’s authors wrote.

Academics always need something to argue about, no matter how miniscule the topic. This particular article concludes on the note that someone should get the number straight so academics can move onto to another item to argue about.  Going back to the original thought a student forced to write an essay with citations also probably thought: the reason this stuff does not get read is because they are so boring.

Whitney Grace, November 23, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


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