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Scholasticism in Political Science

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 June 2010

Lawrence M. Mead
Affiliation:
New York University

Abstract

Criticism of trends in political science centers on specific methodologies—quantitative methods or rational choice. However, the more worrisome development is scholasticism—a tendency for research to become overspecialized and ingrown. I define that trend more closely and document its growth through increases in numbers of journals, organized sections in the American Political Science Association, and divisions within the APSA conference. I also code articles published in the American Political Science Review to show a growth in scholastic features in recent decades. The changes affect all fields in political science. Scholasticism serves values of rigor. To restrain it will require reemphasizing relevance to real-world issues and audiences. To do this should also help restore morale among political scientists.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © American Political Science Association 2010

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Supplementary material: File

Mead supplementary material

Explanatory files

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Journal data for Figure 1

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APSA Member and Section Data for Figures 2 and 3

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APSR Articles by Methodological Orientation and Field

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Averages from APSR Coding for Figures 4 and 5

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