Will takes journalists to task for failing to embrace IR scholarship. In doing so, he jumps on board the current "why don't journalists take us seriously" whinge sparked by last week's APSA panel. Absent from this discussion is the recognition that journalists are hardly the only people to ignore political science scholarship. Don't take my word for it; listen to a former editor of the APSR:
"Most of the articles that have appeared in the Review since its inception in 1906 have rarely if ever been cited...[B]y the end of 2005, some 155 Review articles had been cited 100 or more times, and one...had been cited more than 500 times...By comparison, more than twice as many articles in The American Sociology Review...had topped the 100 citations and a score had surpassed the 500 mark. This interdisciplinary difference, which is especially striking because political science is a much larger discipline than sociology, appears for the most part to be a manifestation of the attention that sociological research receives from outside of sociology--a phenomenon less apparent in political science. It is the very rare Review article that has become a standard point of reference or an object of encompassing interest for those in other disciplines, consistent with the image of political science as a "borrower" discipline theoretically and methodologically."*
The problem thus extends beyond "why don't journalists pay attention to us." Our fellow social sciences don't pay attention to us either (and only 155 articles with 100 + cites in 100 years suggests we are not really paying all that much attention to each other's research either). As a result, political science runs a massive intellectual trade deficit with other social and behavioral sciences. All importing and no exporting can't be healthy for the discipline in the long run.
And the failure to export can't be laid entirely at the feet of the consumer. Say's Law may be unfashionable, and perhaps the problem really is one of aggregate demand (or information about the product) as Will suggests. But I can't help but think that research with social value gets noticed. So, rather than calling journalists names, perhaps we might consider whether the lack of attention the media pay to IR and IPE scholarship conveys meaningful information about the product being supplied?
*Lee Sigelman. 2006. "The "American Political Science Review" Citation Classics," The American Political Science Review 100 (4): 667.
For the curious, the ASR produced 379 articles with 100 or more citations, and 18 articles with 500 or more citations (see Jerry A. Jacobs. 2005. "The ASR's Greatest Hits," The American Sociological Review 70 (1): 1-3.