When Kevin Smith was recently thumbing through the latest issue of the American Political Science Association’s quarterly journal, he was mildly surprised to come across his name.
In an article published in the journal PS: Political Science and Politics, Smith and fellow University of Nebraska-Lincoln political scientist John Hibbing were among the top 20 most central political science authors in the world, based on the research of two German scholars.
The study included more than 67,000 articles published from 1990 to 2013 by more than 40,000 political scientists around the globe. Looking at co-authorships and using social network analysis, where connections are mapped and measured to establish relationships and flows between people, the researchers established Smith and Hibbing among the most connected authors in the field.
“When I read it, I had a very tongue-in-cheek reaction, and John had the same,” Smith said. “But it is pretty flattering and humbling to be included in that list with some of the most influential and productive scholars in our field.”
Hibbing and Smith have a long history of working together to research the biological underpinnings that have sway over a person’s political leanings. They established the university’s groundbreaking Political Physiology Lab and co-authored a seminal work on biology and politics, “Predisposed: Liberals, Conservatives and the Biology of Political Differences.”
Both have been cited thousands of times and are often tapped by major media to provide insight on political behavior. Smith also writes a political blog. Their work has gained much traction in popular media as well. Hibbing has appeared on “The Daily Show” and “Star Talk” with Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Hibbing, the Foundation Regent University Professor of Political Science, said he appreciated how the analysis looked beyond simple citation counts.
“The idea of thinking about research output from more of a ‘network’ point of view was a novel and interesting take,” he said. “I was surprised but pleased that we were included, in that it suggests that our efforts to work with other scientists around the world to move political science in a more biological direction have had at least a little success.”