Publishing Behavior of Individuals and Most Prolific Authors in the Economics Literature

Article excerpt


Various aspects of the production and distribution of the economics literature have been studied. Siegfried (1972), Niemi (1975), Davis and Papanek (1984), Hirsch et al. (1984), Blair et al. (1986), Laband (1986a, 1986b), and Tschirhart (1989) investigate institutional contributions to economics journals and their impact on the reputation of academic departments. Sun (1975) and Laband (1985) document the doctoral origins of authors. The relative quality of economics journals and their impact on the economics literature are examined by Moore (1972), Hawkins et al. (1973), Bush et al. (1974), Odagiri (1977), and Liebowitz and Palmer (1984), and others. Finally, Tuckman and Leahey (1975), Tuckman et al. (1977), Hamermesh et al. (1982), Diamond (1986), and Sauer (1988) measure the monetary value of research outputs.

This study examines the publication behavior of individuals and identifies the most prolific authors in major economics journals (along with the authors' doctoral origins and current academic affiliations). While the publication behavior and ranking of economics departments previously have been studied using different criteria, there is scanty evidence on individual contributions to the literature. The knowledge of the publication behavior of individuals can serve many useful purposes. For instance, if it is assumed that the publishing behavior of individuals is stable over time, it will help assess the likelihood of multiple publications by individuals in the future. In addition, such knowledge provides valuable information about the implicit strategies of economic researchers in selecting their research outlets, the behavioral aspects of joint work (i.e., co-authored paper), and the relationship between the publication count and an author's stage in the career cycle.

Quandt (1976) and Medoff (1989) identify the top economists using citation counts. Although citation-based ranking has several advantages over that based on journal publications, the former is nonetheless limited.(1) This study reports the ranking of economists based on the number of journal publications from 1963 to 1988. Ranking based on journal publication counts is by no means superior to the one using citation counts.(2) Rather, the goal in this research is to provide some supplementary information on the rankings of economists and thus to complement the studies of Quandt (1976) and Medoff (1989). Hansen and Weisbrod (1972) previously identify top performers in the economics literature based upon article publications for the 1886-1965 time period. The present study, covering the 1963-1988 period, together with the study by Hansen and Weisbrod, provide considerable evidence regarding the most prolific contributors to the economics literature during the last century.


Data for this study came from 20 leading economics journals, as given in Liebowitz and Palmer (1984). They find that articles appearing in a small core of journals account for the majority of references in the economics literature.(3) According to their study, articles in the tenth ranked journal received 15.99 percent of the impact-adjusted citations of the first ranked journal; this figure is 9.59 percent for the 20th ranked journal, and 4.20 percent for the 30th ranked journal. Authorship for all contributions as reported in the Journal of Economic Literature is compiled for each of these 20 top journals for the last 26 years, 1963 (inaugural year of Journal of Economic Literature) through 1988.(4)

Table 1 shows the total number of papers in each journal, the number of authors contributing to each journal, and the proportion of authors by the number of papers.(5) The size of the data base and the voluminous contributions in the 20 top economics journals are reflected in the table. These journals published 27,598 papers by 13,576 authors in the 26 years studied. Among these papers, 68.1 percent are single authored, 27. …