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Brief #3: Decline in professional military content
Figure 1. Decline in pages published by branch.
From 1980 to 2022, Armor, Engineer, Fires/Fires Bulletin, Infantry, Special Warfare, and Army Logistics have published fewer pages and fewer issues, more erratically, each year. This is too bad, as publishing quality content is the first characteristic of a successful professional military journal and the quality most valued by military authors.Modernizing the Army's professional journals could help reverse the decline in content production y better engaging audiences and authors.
Between 1980 and 2022, the average annual pages published fell from a high of 298.25 pages in 1985 to a low of 157 pages in 2022.But this decline is also recent. Average annual pages published dropped from 295 in 2018 to 198 in 2019 and then to 157 in 2022. Figure 1 depicts the number of pages published by outlet by year.
Over the same time period, average issues published also dropped. The average number of issues published started at 5 in 1980 and reached a peak of 5.6 in 2007.Mirroring pages published, issues published dropped from 4.5 in 2018 to 3.3 in 2019 to 2.8 in 2022.
As the number of pages and issues dropped, the publication schedule also became more erratic. Armor, Fires/Fires Bulletin, Infantry, and Army Logistics consistently published six issues a year for more about two decades. In the last several year, no outlet has published consistently (see Figure 2).
Figure 2. Increasingly erratic issues per year by outlet.
Audiences may look elsewhere for professional military materials as content production declines and becomes more erratic. More tightly binding audiences to these outlets through volunteer editorial board or transitioning to a web-first, mobile friendly model may make these outlets more accessible.
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See "Research Brief #1: Characteristics of healthy professional military journals" and Zachary Griffiths, “Lowcrawling towards Obscurity: The Army’s Professional Journals,” Military Review 103, no. 5 (September 2023), Forthcoming.
Lengths were not available for all publications in all years, so the page numbers provided are the total number of pages in that year divided by the number of outlets for that year.
Note that Armor’s pages bounced back in 2022, but Armor makes extensive use of reprints that pads their page count. Armor is the only one of these branch magazines I identified that reprints significantly.
Issues were not available for all publications in all years, so the issues per year are the total number of issues in that year divided by the number of outlets for that year