, Volume 116, Issue 2, pp 909–939 | Cite as

Does scientific eminence endure? Making sense of the most cited economists, psychologists and sociologists in textbooks (1970–2010)

  • Philipp KoromEmail author


This paper examines the concept of textbook eminence and asks whether this specific form of scholarly recognition is of a temporal rather than enduring nature. Based on an analysis of 30 leading textbooks in economics, psychology and economics from the 1970s and 2010s, it is established that less than a third of all eminent scholars remain across the period as the most cited authors. Therefore, the average “half-life” of textbook eminence is shorter than half a century. Textbook eminence, it seems, is associated first and foremost with ‘certified recognition,’ expressed through encyclopedia entries dedicated to individual scholars. In psychology, and partly in sociology, citation impact turns out to be a further significant correlate. In economics, however, textbook eminence is completely detached from peer recognition, as measured by the h-index. The identified short “half-life” of textbook eminence does not necessarily imply a replacement of older elites by younger researchers. In sociology, very few 20th century newcomers have yet attained textbook eminence.


Scientific eminence Textbooks Citation analysis Bibliometrics 



This article benefited greatly from comments by Christian Fleck, University of Graz. Carl Neumayr and Thomas Klebel provided outstanding research assistance. I acknowledge financial support from the Collaborative Project No. 319.974 of the European Commission 7th Framework Program and the FWF Grant P 29211.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department for SociologyUniversity of GrazGrazAustria

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