Journal Rankings, Circulation/Subscriptions, Subject Matter

Barbara Ruth Campbell (CAMPBELL@ZODIAC.BITNET)
Mon, 13 Jun 1994 10:41:03 -0400

Several participants have discussed the ranking of journals and the use
of citation counts. I'm sure you are all aware that information
science researchers have published on the reliability of ISI's citation
indexes and pointed out that not all issues are received in time to
even be included in the index. Plus the fact that there's a whole body
of literature in Journal of the Society for Information Science, Journal
of Documentation and Scientometrics discussing the flaws in citation
analysis - motivation and content analysis of cites, etc.

This said, some of you mentioned that your departments rank journals,
and that some have points.

Using the Ulrich's Guide to International Periodicals (which does not
have anywhere near all the journals in the world) along with several
other reference guides to periodicals - Serials Indexes, etc., what
are the journals that one is supposed to publish in? Which journals
are read by department chairs - does anyone know? Do the departments
look at the circulation figures - many of the titles in Ulrich's list
their circulation but remember those numbers include library subscriptions
not just individuals? Do the departments take the time to contact their
university libraries to ask about interlibrary figures for each title?

How many people subscribe? How many libraries subscribe? How many
interlibrary loan requests are made for each title each year? What
is the journals ISI impact factor? How accurate do the members of the
faculty feel that figure is? What is the subject matter for each journal
and if the faculty member in question does not work in those areas, how
can one expect him or her to get published in that title?

Do the tenure committees those of you who have had personal experience
being on or being rejected by even consider the complexity of the issue?
Does anyone read the information science stuff at all?

Books get cited and have sales figures? Do you include those numbers in
your tenure packets? What if your book sells millions of copies but the
person your up against for the last tenure position in America has only
published articles in highly cited journals but whose work itself has
only been cited by 100 other authors? Does popularity and wide-
readership appeal not count? And Heaven forbid, what if your work becomes
noticed by the general public and you appear on TV documentaries and
TV interviews (this happened to one of our faculty and the jealousy was
fierce and his work questioned)?!!!

Any first hand accounts out there? You might be doing the best work in the
world but if it's ahead of its time you'll only be noticed posthumously!

Barbara Ruth Campbell
School of Communication, Information and Library Studies
An Interdisciplinary School but Rut