For how long do research papers remain useful?

Academic research papers remain useful for several years after publication, according to a study of more than 2,800 journal articles

January 30, 2014

The study by Phil Davis Consulting looked at the number of article downloads from academic and professional journals in the sciences, social sciences and humanities.

It then measured the usage “half-life”, a term that describes the time it takes for a piece of work to reach half of its total number of downloads, for papers in 10 disciplines.

Almost 17 per cent of the articles had a half-life of more than six years and only 3 per cent had half-lives below 12 months.

Typically, journal articles in the humanities, physics and mathematics had the longest half-lives, with a median of four to five years. Papers in the health sciences had the shortest half-lives, at two to three years.

The study, published in November, gave median half-lives as a range to standardise the data across different publishers.

Source: “Journal Usage Half-Life” by Philip M. Davis. * The median age of articles downloaded from a publisher’s website

holly.else@tsleducation.com

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Worried man wiping forehead
Two academics explain how to beat some of the typical anxieties associated with a doctoral degree

Felipe Fernández-Armesto takes issue with a claim that the EU has been playing the sovereignty card in Brexit negotiations

Man throwing axes

UCU attacks plans to cut 171 posts, but university denies Brexit 'the reason'

Kenny Dalglish

Agnes Bäker and Amanda Goodall have found that academics who are happiest at work have a head of department who is a distinguished researcher. How can such people be encouraged into management?

A group of flamingos and a Marabou stork

A right-wing philosopher in Texas tells John Gill how a minority of students can shut down debates and intimidate lecturers – and why he backs Trump