The explosion of knowledge, references, and citations. Psychology's unique response to a crisis

Am Psychol. 2003 Jan;58(1):15-23. doi: 10.1037/0003-066x.58.1.15.


The knowledge explosion has created enormous difficulties for researchers to be aware of, access, and process the volume of new literature. Electronic literature retrieval systems and specialization on narrow topics have been strategies used to cope with these problems. In this study, the authors examined the additional effects of the knowledge explosion on researchers' writing, referencing, and citing. Counts of references within sampled empirical journal articles in sociology, physics, biology, and experimental and social psychology revealed impacts of the knowledge explosion in all disciplines but the greatest effects within psychology. Detailed analyses indicated that substantial changes in the numbers of references and citations and in their format and use within the research article are psychology's unique response to the knowledge explosion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Knowledge*
  • Psychology / trends*
  • Publishing*
  • Research Design