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Five Proposals for Reforming Article Publishing in the Social Scientific Study of Religion (Especially Quantitative): Improving the Quality, Value, and Cumulativeness of Our Scholarship


  • Editor's Note: Just as other articles are published to spur debate in the social scientific study of religion, this article raises questions about the direction article publishing should take in the near future. Christian Smith is a member of the editorial board and offers five proposals for reform. While his proposals should not be construed as editorial policy, they serve as a useful foundation for discussion.

Correspondence should be addressed to Christian Smith, University of Notre Dame, Department of Sociology, 816 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556. E-mail:


How might the social scientific study of religion (SSSR) benefit from adjusting some of its journal article publishing standards and practices? This article builds on five presuppositions about the purpose and nature of good sociology in order to advance five specific proposals for changes in how we write, review, and make use of journal articles in the field. Those proposals concern the publishing of descriptive empirical research notes, meta-analysis review essays, detailed methodological information, arguments about causation, and analytical emphases on the substantive power of variables rather than mere statistical significance. The purpose and expected result of these proposed publishing adjustments is to increase the quality, value, and cumulative nature of the scholarship produced in the SSSR.