Category Archives: meta

known issues with this blog

1.  That gray bar below the banner.  It would be the menu if we were a blog that had separate “about” and other pages.  I do not know how to get rid of it.  Soon, it will drive me to weep; shortly thereafter, it will drive me insane.

Continue reading

see above

I seem to continue to be Making An Effort blog-wise. I have changed the long-past-expiry-date blog banner. I’m not entirely happy with the new one, but I’m far less happy about the time it took to make even that given other things to do.

The blog would be better if we had recent posts in the sidebar as well as recent comments. Due to legacy features of WordPress.com and our template, I don’t think we can do it without completely re-doing the template. See above re: time for the immediate prospects of this happening.

is jeremy blogging again?

As you may know, I used to blog regularly. Blogging’s much different than it was before Facebook and Twitter, but it’s a medium for which I have great nostalgia: inter alia, it’s how I met my wife. Then I mostly stopped, except for the occasional pissy missive about something. After which I quit posting entirely.

So what’s up with this sudden flurry of posts? Am I blogging again? Continue reading

the most cited works in sociology, 2012 edition

Because December is the season for making lists, I’ve updated my sociological navel-gazing to create a 2012 edition of the most cited items in sociological journals.

Since there is no widely accepted list of sociological journals, I include those journals* where the majority of authors who list a department in their mailing address list one that includes the word “sociology” and which have a significant US editorial presence.† This totals 47 journals and includes all the ones you would expect along with some less widely-known journals, like Social Politics. I downloaded the 1,563 research articles published in these journals between December 1, 2011 and November 30, 2012 from Web of Science. That took nine–just nine–clicks, which isn’t so bad. For each article, I counted up which books or articles they cited, and then summed it all up. Journals that published frequently and publish lots of articles (like Social Science Research) or journals where authors tend to cite lots of things (like AJS) probably have undue influence by this measure, but simply counting the number of times something has been cited is a pretty good first pass at seeing what is being commonly referenced.

Here’s the top 25 (as an image, because I can’t do tables in WordPress):

top25_2012

If you want to waste some time, here’s the full list.

So, one in 33 articles cites Distinction. The majority at the top of the list are books along with a pair each from AJS, ASR and the Annual Review, along with one article from Social Forces. The authors and titles are truncated by Web of Science, so don’t blame me. Remember that the lists only counts citations in this group of sociology journals, so being famous in other worlds doesn’t get you on the list.

Fun fact: 2/3 of things that were cited last year were only cited once, and 95% of things cited were cited less than five times. And, unless one of your articles was cited nine or more times in one of these journals last year, you can consider yourself, like me, one of the 99%.

One thing that struck me was how old everything  on this top list was. The median publication year in the top 100 was 1992. Of the top 100, only one piece was published in the last five years. The author ended up at boarding school for future investment bankers, so there is a price to pay for influence.

More generally, things aren’t that bad. It turns out that the average thing we cite is ten or eleven years old. There is a lot of factors that go into what items get cited and how many times, such as the number of papers published in an area or the degree to which there is a common puzzle or cannon in a subfield.  But we don’t seem to be in a hurry to cite new stuff. Or alternatively, we aren’t easily swayed by the newest research trend.

when

I don’t know how that has changed over the long term, but I just ran the numbers for articles published in 2009 in the same set of journals and got the same median lag of ten years.

On a side note, it’s my understanding that Journal Impact Factors are often computed using citations to articles published in the last two or five years. Last year, 93% of the stuff we cited was more than two years old and 78% more than 5 years old, further complicating these measures.

* Social Science Research (110 articles); Sociology of Health & Illness (77); Journal of Marriage and Family (73); Social Forces (52); Demography (48); Journal For the Scientific Study of Religion (47); Sociological Forum (45); Deviant Behavior (44); American Sociological Review (40); Population Research and Policy Review (35); Poetics (33); Sociological Spectrum (31); International Migration Review (31); Sociological Quarterly (30); Social Networks (30); Journal of Health and Social Behavior (30); Review of Religious Research (29); Sociological Inquiry (28); Criminology (28); Social Compass (27); Symbolic Interaction (26); American Journal of Sociology (26); Gender & Society (25); Mobilization (25); Annual Review of Sociology (25); Socio-economic Review (25); Theory and Society (24); Teaching Sociology (23); Journal of Contemporary Ethnography (23); Ethnography (23); Punishment & Society-international Journal of Penology (23); Rural Sociology (23); Sociological Methods & Research (22); Social Politics (22); Homicide Studies (22); Qualitative Sociology (21); Sociology of Education (20); Social Problems (18); City & Community (17); Feminist Criminology (17); Sociology of Religion (16); Sociological Theory (16); Theoretical Criminology (16); Work and Occupations (15); Social Psychology Quarterly (12); Journal of Mathematical Sociology (10); Sociological Perspectives (10). I might be missing the last issue from a couple of journals because they haven’t showed up in Web of Science yet. You snooze you lose.

† My method of identifying sociological journals doesn’t really work for non-US journals as it appears non-US folk are much more likely to lists themselves in things like “School of Social Policy.”  Sorry. You can ballpark the effect of including these journals by adding 327 cites to Giddens’s Modernity and Self-Identity and including a couple of works by John Goldthorpe to the list.

wrap it up, people

End of the year means lots of lists and other reminiscences. Here are just a few:

developments

Several people wondered whether I would stop blogging when I came to Northwestern. Speculation that this would happen increased after I, well, stopped blogging. But then I came back! What’s more, colleagues here at NU are now joining the blogosphere!* Two of my colleagues are among the founders of Controlling Authority (get it?), a zippy new legal studies blog.

I’m a bit amazed that I blogged by myself for more than four years before figuring out how much more fun a group blog is. I had the theory that eventually everyone with a group blog would figure out they might as well have individual blogs that everyone would read via RSS rather than check in their browsers, as when you read on RSS you don’t care how often people update. However, as with so much else in this world, I was wrong. Continue reading

our known unknowns

This is a WordPress.com blog, which is not as flexible as if it were a WordPress blog we were serving ourselves. For example, I would love to have a custom favicon instead of the WordPress logo next to the URL up in your address bar, but WordPress.com does not allow this. Even though one can still do a lot of twiddling with the template, the twiddling is actually editing CSS that runs on top of other CSS that runs on top of the actual HTML template. The result is super-kludgy and not wholly satisfying, although if you look at the template we used as our starting point, you can see that much customization has been done.

Still: Continue reading

it’s 9:15pm, and…

I’m about to go to bed. I moved to NYC thinking it would change my life. That things would be exciting. That I would finally get away from Madison, where the few things I did were eat out and go to movies.

Now I live in NY. And I eat out. Movies are no longer a part of my life. So I guess it’s been a net loss! Funny how I fooled myself.

Oh, and no one told me life as an assistant prof would be so much harder than life as a grad student. I’m not complaining. Life so far is actually better. But it’s more work. I wish I’d known.

my first post

In this, my first post, let me say two controversial things.

1.) An open note to sociologists: Dear Sociologists (particularly my fellow ethnographers) – Please stop writing the same book. The year was 1943, and with “Cornerville” we learn that downtrodden communities were not normless. They had social organization like everyone else. In many ways they were just like you and me Thank you Mr. Whyte. But now we get it. Why do we keep packing our bags for a trip we are never going to take? Do we really need another book telling us that the ghetto is socially organized like other social spaces? That poor people are just like you and me (only poor)?

2.) I now teach at a fancy school. And I’ve gotta say, there is a downside to having a very competitive admissions process (we accepted around 8-9% last year). And that downside is this: our students are boring. Or least mine are. They’ve all “bought in”. They are very hard working. They are very good at telling me what I’ve told them. This is all very nice. But they’re not interested in much other than what I want them to tell me on evaluations. I don’t want to say that they’re just a group of people who have “sold out” for a steep career trajectory. But they are. Yeah yeah, it’s not their fault. They’re just working within the structure of rewards set-up for them. And they all have to work like crazy to get in (even the privileged ones). Getting good grades, running the school paper, spoon feeding sick kittens.But the perverse effect of all this “total candidate” requirement is that students don’t develop interests, they learn to meet requirements. So I can’t really blame them for doing what they had to to get in. But there’s something sad about it.

Maybe competition breeds efficiency. I’m sure they’ll all be great at their jobs. They certainly are better students than I ever was. But I’ve never felt so like a meat grinder in my life: creating a uniform mass. So I say, away with competition! Or perhaps I am beginning to support Karabel’s idea that some percentage of each class should be made up of a randomly selected group of people who simply have to meet a minimum requirement (assuming that if you meet this requirement, you can perform reasonably well in the school – and given that we give out 50% A’s, anyone can do reasonably well!).

well, this is certainly off to an ugly start

I have chosen the ugliest possible WordPress theme because it’s supposed to be extremely customizable once you understand how wordpress.com’s CSS upgrade works. I am sure this site is going to be looking absolutely smashing by 2011. Until then, this.

I’m also going to stick a test link here so that I can see what links look like if I play around with any of the CSS add-ons for this online.

Update: I’ve added a CSS template off the web and a banner added. I still don’t get how the sidebar widgets work, or if these will start to behave better once there is enough text on this blog so that the sidebar and the text is actually side by side. Obviously, I could check this even I just kept typing enough so that this was a long post, but I don’t think I’m feeling creative enough even for completely pointless filler text at the moment.

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