For social science academics only …

this has to be the funniest discussion of the structure of academic articles in economics and sociology I have ever read. And it is all true.

A taste would do the post an injustice but still …

[B]uilding up a robust understanding of an area of literature takes much more time commitment than creating an original empirical contribution. Furthermore whereas one can only milk a single empirical finding for, at most, four or five articles, one can build a career using the same literature review. To put it in terms economists can understand, empirical research is best conceived of as a “variable cost” and learning the literature as a “fixed cost.” In any industry, including academia, large fixed costs serve as a barrier to entry which in turn constrict supply and raise prices. Thus incumbent economists have a tremendous rent-seeking opportunity available to them by demanding more extensive literature reviews which will restrict the entry of younger economists (who may be able to analyze data but can scarcely learn hundreds of citations) and this restricted entry will make for a seller’s labor market in economics.

Classic!

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