I’m taking a glance at academic work and careers in the book, and came across this really interesting article by John Robert Warren asking, “How Much Do You Have to Publish to Get a Job in a Top Sociology Department?” The brief answer is, twice as much today as in the 1990s.

Here’s the abstract:

Many sociologists suspect that publication expectations have risen over time—that how much graduate students have published to get assistant professor jobs and how much assistant professors have published to be promoted have gone up. Using information about faculty in 21 top sociology departments from the American Sociological Association’s Guide to Graduate Departments of Sociology, online curricula vitae, and other public records, I provide empirical evidence to support this suspicion. On the day they start their first jobs, new assistant professors in recent years have already published roughly twice as much as their counterparts did in the early 1990s. Trends for promotion to associate professor are not as dramatic but are still remarkable. I evaluate several potential explanations for these trends and conclude that they are driven mainly by changes over time in the fiscal and organizational realities of universities and departments.

Warren argues that this is mainly due to greater competition between job seekers, and more pressure to work in interdisciplinary sub fields that encourage collaboration and multiple authorship. The risk at the disciplinary level, of course, is that higher expectations to publish risk driving down the quality of publications (the number of sociology journals has risen in the past 20+ years, and so editors are chasing more articles); and at the individual level, that the pressure to publish a lot makes it harder for people to do good work.