Citations of History Journals

Yesterday I posted some data about how often journals cite other journals. And one of the things that jumped out was how rarely generalist journals cite various specialist journals. I suggested an inference from that: generalist journals are not as generalist as they are often thought to be. And I think that’s largely correct, and I’ll be presenting more data on it over upcoming days and weeks.

But today I want to issue a caveat. I don’t think we can draw many inferences about a journal’s coverage of history from who it cites.

I started out looking through recent editions of the Philosophical Review to see how many history articles it had published. I’ve been an external editor for the Review for several years, so I’m somewhat biased here, but I thought the coverage of many areas of history of philosophy was decent. And indeed, it seems there have been several articles in the 2010s that are naturally classified as history articles.

The list includes (and I may have missed some):

  1. Deliberation as Inquiry: Aristotle’s Alternative to the Presumption of Open Alternatives, Karen Margrethe Nielsen, 2011
  2. Kant’s Conception of Number, Daniel Sutherland, 2017.
  3. Kant’s First Paralogism, Ian Proops, 2010.
  4. Leibniz and the Foundations of Physics: The Later Years, Jeffrey McDonough, 2016.
  5. Leibniz and the Ground of Possibility, Samuel Newlands, 2013.
  6. Leibniz and the Puzzle of Incompossibility: The Packing Strategy, Jeffrey McDonough, 2010.
  7. Locke’s Simple Account of Sensitive Knowledge, Jennifer Smalligan MaruÅ¡ić, 2016.
  8. Minds, Composition, and Hume’s Skepticism in the Appendix, Jonathan Cottrell, 2015.
  9. Russell on Substitutivity and the Abandonment of Propositions, Ian Proops, 2011.
  10. Sidgwick’s Axioms and Consequentialism, Robert Shaver, 2014.
  11. Space as Form of Intuition and as Formal Intuition: On the Note to B160 in Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, Christian Onof and Dennis Schulting, 2015.
  12. Substance and Independence in Descartes, Anat Schechtman, 2016,
  13. Theories about Consciousness in Spinoza’s Ethics, Michael LeBuffe, 2010.

Given how few articles the Review publishes, roughly 12 per year, that seems like a reasonable number of history papers. If one wanted one could quibble over the distribution – it’s very concentrated on Big Names from Modern Philosophy. But now we’re getting into deep questions about what a generalist journal with few articles per year could even look like. The main thing to note is that 13 history articles out of the roughly 100 we’ve published since 2010 is a reasonable number.

So how do these publications show up in the citations? Well, I went back and looked at the articles Web of Science lists as being cited by one of these 13 publications. And it’s a bit of a mess, because of the weaknesses of the Web of Science database. But as far as I can tell, here are the journals cited 3 times or more across those 13 articles.

Journal Cites
Philosophical Review 18
Journal of the History of Philosophy 12
Archiv Fur Geschichte Der Philosophie 8
Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 6
Nous 4
Philosophical Studies 4
Synthese 4
Hume Studies 3
Kant-Studien 3
Kantian Review 3
Mind 3
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 3

And those 86 citations really wouldn’t make a big dent in the graphs I’ve been using. The 18 citations to the Review itself would get thrown out, because I’m largely ignoring within journal citations. Of the other 68, only 29 are to dedicated history journals, and several of those I wasn’t even including in the research I did.

So this is just a limitation of the kind of study I was doing. I don’t think it tells us a lot about about history journals. It tells us something. CJP and PPR do cite JHP much more than other journals, and that’s roughly what you’d expect. But it’s possible for a journal to have very reasonable history coverage, just as much as you’d expect a generalist journal to have, and that not show up a lot in how much it cites specialist history journals.

Could it also be true that a journal to have very reasonable ethics coverage, just as much as you’d expect a generalist journal to have, and that not show up a lot in how much it cites specialist ethics journals? That is also possible, though I think it’s a bit less likely than in history. But since it is possible, that should put a limit on how strong a conclusion one draws from the data I posted yesterday.

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