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ARDA Guiding Papers Series

Five Proposals for Reforming (Especially Quantitative) Journal Article Publishing Practices in the Sociology of Religion toward Improving the Quality, Value, and Cumulativeness of Our Scholarship

by Christian Smith


How might the sociology of religion benefit from adjusting some of its journal article publishing standards and practices? This paper 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 sociology of religion.

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Please use the following when citing this paper:

Smith, Christian. 2010. Five Proposals for Reforming (Especially Quantitative) Journal Article Publishing Practices in the Sociology of Religion toward Improving the Quality, Value, and Cumulativeness of Our Scholarship (ARDA Guiding Paper Series). State College, PA: The Association of Religion Data Archives at The Pennsylvania State University, from http://www.thearda.com/rrh/papers/guidingpapers.asp.

Christian Smith is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame, Director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society, Director of the Notre Dame Center for Social Research, Principal Investigator of the National Study of Youth and Religion, and Principal Investigator of the Science of Generosity Initiative. Smith worked at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1994 to 2006, where he served as Associate Chair of the Department of Sociology from 2000 to 2005. Smith holds an MA (1987) and PhD (1990) in Sociology from Harvard University and has studied Christian historical theology at Harvard Divinity School and other Boston Theological Institute schools. He has directed more than $14 million in grant-funded research projects. Smithís BA is in sociology (1983), from Gordon College, Wenham, Massachusetts. Before moving to UNC Chapel Hill in 1994 and prior to moving to Notre Dame, Smith taught for six years at Gordon College (1988-1994).

Smith is the author, co-author, or editor of numerous books, including:


He is also author or co-author of numerous journal articles. Smithís scholarly interests focus on American religion, cultural sociology, adolescents, generosity, sociological theory, and philosophy of social science.