There is a long tradition in economics of ranking academics. Besides being a source of entertainment, rankings have been argued to stimulate competition among them. Over time, the ‘objective’ inputs for these rankings have changed. A number of alternative measures of academic output, called ‘altmetrics’, like shares on Facebook or mentions on Twitter, have been recently proposed.
In a working paper, Tom Coupé presents another new way of measuring their impact: search intensity in Google.
This paper uses Google Trends to rank economists and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of using Google Trends compared with other ranking methods, like those based on citations or downloads. I find that search intensity rankings based on Google Trends data are only modestly correlated with more traditional measures of scholarly impact; hence, search intensity statistics can provide additional information, allowing one to show a more comprehensive picture of academics’ impact. In addition, search intensity rankings can help to illustrate the variety in economists’ careers that can lead to fame and allows a comparison of the current impact of both contemporaneous and past economists. Complete rankings can be found at https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/NHZJLACoupé, Tom. Who is the Most Sought-After Economist? Ranking Economists Using Google Trends. No. 21/02. 2021.
The main advantage of using search intensity, compared with traditional citation-based metrics, is that it measures not just the impact of a scholar on academia but also the attention of the general public. The main disadvantage? Well, to begin with, Who is an economist?
In the paper the author uses several criteria.
Looking to those tables, I have to admit Alfred North Whitehead was basically right: The safest general characterization of
the European philosophical tradition [Economics] is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.
Footnotes written by Karl Marx 😉