Newspapers and academic research

Newspapers are an important part of the academic publishing landscape - and their use is growing.

A study, conducted by ProQuest in partnership with the Oxford Internet Institute, examines the scholarly impact of newspapers and reveals that newspapers are an important part of the academic publishing landscape.

The study identified four notable trends:

The use of newspapers in research is on the rise

The researchers reviewed the number of citations for four key newspapers (New York Times; the Guardian; Wall Street Journal; Washington Post) from 1981 to 2016. The figures show an ongoing rise in citations, peaking and plateauing around 2013 (except for the Guardian, which has experienced ongoing growth. The researchers ascribe this to the introduction of a paywall for the other three publications featured).

Newspapers are cited by scholars in every discipline

The five subject areas that most commonly include newspaper citations are:

  • Social sciences (5.7% of publications cite newspapers)
  • Arts and Humanities (4.8%)
  • Economics/Finance (4.5%)
  • Business, management and accounting (4%)
  • Psychology (1.6%)

But However, the subject areas that most commonly include newspaper citations include the social sciences, health and medicine, business and the hard sciences.

Each newspaper studied shows distinctive discipline patterns

  • The New York Times is influential in research across the broadest range of academic disciplines, with the heaviest concentration of citations in scholarly articles on topics from international and diplomatic studies, psychology, culture, technology, business and health and medicine
  • The Guardian has also been cited in journals across diverse fields, including sociology, journalism, international studies, business and the environment.
  • Citations from The Wall Street Journal are clustered around areas of business, finance and management
  • The Washington Post is most frequently referenced in topics related to politics, global relations, security and regional studies

All four titles are cited by researchers around the globe

  • Most of the researchers citing these newspapers represent majority English-speaking countries. Each of the four titles were most frequently cited by scholars from universities in North America, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa.
  • In some instances, the subject area is more important than the geographic region. For example, in the case of The Wall Street Journal, five Hong Kong institutions are among the top 20 universities that cited the publication in scholarly research.

The full research can be downloaded here.