The top ten PhD-granting institutions account for more than half (56 percent) of all articles published. Authors with PhDs from Harvard, Yale, University of California–Berkeley, Columbia, Chicago, Cornell, Stanford, Oxford, Princeton, and Cambridge wrote 1,843 of 3,318 articles. Authors with PhDs from just two universities, Harvard and Yale, accounted for more than one-fifth (21 percent) of all articles. As indicated in the second graph (left), all three journals also have a history of publishing articles primarily from male contributors. Only one volume of one journal, Representations in 1990, had an issue in which at least half of all primary contributors were women. All three journals, however, did show a steadily increasing percentage of women being published annually.

Studies such as ours suggest that the hegemony of a few elite institutions continues well beyond who gets the prized tenure track jobs right out of graduate school. The influence and power of a few institutions also extends to publishing—and so to the production and transmission of knowledge more directly. This raises a basic question: If graduates from only a few elite institutions account for an outsized proportion of high-profile published work, then aren’t their ideas bound to have an outsized impact and influence? Do Harvard and Yale, which have not only unparalleled financial means to shape American higher education, also have the institutional prestige to determine what counts as knowledge?