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Integration and Fragmentation in Political Science: Exploring Patterns of Scholarly Communication in a Divided Discipline


James C. Garand ( is the Emogene Pliner Distinguished Professor of political science, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803-5433.


Political science is generally thought of as a discipline with strong divisions and often intense patterns of disagreement, most of which are driven by political scientists’ subfield and methodological orientations. In this address I explore subfield and methodological cleavages in political science as they relate to patterns of scholarly communication—in particular, in how political scientists differ in the value that they give to various political science journals. Using survey data on political scientists’ assessments of quality, familiarity, and impact for 115 political science journals (Garand and Giles, 2003), I find that political scientists differ in their rankings of the elite journals in the discipline, depending on subfield and, to a lesser extent, methodological approach. However, based on correlations and factor analyses, there is strong coherence in how political scientists from different subfield and methodological groups rank the full range of political science journals. Finally, I model journal evaluations and familiarity as a function of subfield and methodology variables. These results suggest that there are moderate subfield and methodology effects in how political scientists evaluate political science journals, but there are stronger effects of these variables in terms of political scientists’ levels of familiarity with these journals. I conclude by discussing the implications of observed cleavages in scholarly communication for the fragmentation and integration of the political science discipline.