Thursday, December 11, 2014

The "Home Run" Article

When evaluating scholars who work in economics or business, there is often a demand for a "home run" article: published in the right place, highly cited, a significant advance. I have not seen such a demand in other social sciences or in the natural sciences. In book publishing fields, in general the first book, often used to make tenure decisions, is rarely so influential and since it takes a while for books to be appreciated the citation data won't be helpful.

I also note that this is a requirement that seems to be honored in the breach at most institutions.

I find it interesting that the requirement is put upon scholars perhaps 5-7 years beyond their doctoral work, where articles may take 1-2 years to get through the reviewing process.

Departments that tenure a small fraction of their faculty, perhaps hiring from outside at that level, might well have this requirement and honor it.

What is striking is the expectation that such junior inexperienced scholars should be making such strong contributions.  Or perhaps, what is called a "home-run" is actually in a ballpark with close-in fences? In any case, early salience is taken as a sign of long term excellence.

My other thought is that perhaps economics and related fields are comparatively less profound and deep than other fields, and so it is possible for a junior person to make such a contribution. It's surely quite rare in physics or mathematics, for example, although the strongest scholars do stand out fairly early.

I don't know.

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