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

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

Michael Parkin illustration (9 March 2017)

Cramming study into the shortest possible time will impoverish the student experience and drive an even greater wedge between research-enabled permanent staff and the growing underclass of flexible teaching staff, says Tom Cutterham