Is ag econ academic research cited? Yes

In an editorial in the Washington Post last week, Steven Pearstein discusses the cost of higher education.  One of the comments that has drawn a lot of criticism is his claim about how much academic work goes uncited.  Pearstein writes: 

The number of journal articles published has climbed from 13,000 50 years ago to 72,000 today, even as overall readership has declined. In his new book “Higher Education in America,” former Harvard president Derek Bok notes that 98 percent of articles published in the arts and humanities are never cited by another researcher. In social sciences, it is 75 percent. Even in the hard sciences, where 25 percent of articles are never cited, the average number of citations is between one and two.

That claim has been widely retweeted - and criticized (e.g., see here or here or here).  

Well, what about research by agricultural economists?  I actually wrote a paper on this topic with Tia Hilmer that was published back in 2009.  Here's an excerpt:

Overall, the frequency of “dry holes” [or uncited papers] for the AJAE [American Journal of Agricultural Economics] is much lower than the figure of 26% for general economics journals reported by Laband and Tollison (2003). The percentage of papers receiving exactly zero citations to date is only 5.5% in 1991, 2.2% in 1993, 10.6% in 2001, 9% in 2003, and 45% in 2005. Clearly the AJAE performs much better than the average journal in Laband and Tollison’s (2003) sample of over 91 journals in terms of publishing research that is ultimately cited. Of further note is that a relatively large frequency of papers (over 20%) from the 1991 and 1993 publication years have received 20 or more citations. Although only about 10% of papers published in 2001 and 2003 have attained this level of citations, if the same trend continues we would expect the figure to double over the next decade. The RAE [Review of Agricultural Economics] experiences a higher level of “dry holes”– 32% in 2003 and 67% in 2005. The most cited paper published by the RAE in 2003 has received 11 citations to date. By contrast, the most cited paper published by the AJAE in 2003 has received 32 citations to date.

I can't speak for other disciplines, but at least for agricultural economics, the "75% is never cited" claim is clearly at odds with the facts.  Rather, given enough time, nearly ALL the papers published in our top journal - the AJAE - is eventually read and cited by someone.