In Dry Holes in Economic Research (Kyklos subscription required) David Laband and Robert Tollison find that a large fraction of economics papers (26%) are never cited and despite large increases in resources devoted to publication this percentage has not changed in decades.
Between 1974 and 1996, there was a substantial increase in the emphasis on academic research in universities located in the United States and elsewhere throughout the world. This increased emphasis was, and continues to be, reflected in a variety of increased incentives for faculty to produce research, including higher salaries, reduced teaching loads, increased money for travel, on so on. Yet, as we report in this paper, during this time period the rate of uncitedness of economics papers remained constant (at 26 percent). Clearly, universities and taxpayers/supporters of universities are obtaining no enhancement of research output (in terms of citations) from the increased subsidy to faculty research. We discuss the implications of this result for the publication and organization of economic research. In particular, we discuss the fact that resources devoted to up-front screening of papers by authors and journals have risen substantially over this period, but to no avail with respect to reducing the incidence of dry holes.