How to Rank Journals

2016-03-01T07:02:48Z (GMT) by Corey J. A. Bradshaw Barry W. Brook
<div><p>There are now many methods available to assess the relative citation performance of peer-reviewed journals. Regardless of their individual faults and advantages, citation-based metrics are used by researchers to maximize the citation potential of their articles, and by employers to rank academic track records. The absolute value of any particular index is arguably meaningless unless compared to other journals, and different metrics result in divergent rankings. To provide a simple yet more objective way to rank journals within and among disciplines, we developed a <i>κ</i>-resampled composite journal rank incorporating five popular citation indices: Impact Factor, Immediacy Index, Source-Normalized Impact Per Paper, SCImago Journal Rank and Google 5-year h-index; this approach provides an index of relative rank uncertainty. We applied the approach to six sample sets of scientific journals from <i>Ecology</i> (<i>n</i> = 100 journals), <i>Medicine</i> (<i>n</i> = 100), <i>Multidisciplinary</i> (<i>n</i> = 50); <i>Ecology + Multidisciplinary</i> (<i>n</i> = 25), <i>Obstetrics & Gynaecology</i> (<i>n</i> = 25) and <i>Marine Biology & Fisheries</i> (<i>n</i> = 25). We then cross-compared the <i>κ</i>-resampled ranking for the <i>Ecology + Multidisciplinary</i> journal set to the results of a survey of 188 publishing ecologists who were asked to rank the same journals, and found a 0.68–0.84 Spearman’s <i>ρ</i> correlation between the two rankings datasets. Our composite index approach therefore approximates relative journal reputation, at least for that discipline. Agglomerative and divisive clustering and multi-dimensional scaling techniques applied to the <i>Ecology + Multidisciplinary</i> journal set identified specific clusters of similarly ranked journals, with only <i>Nature</i> & <i>Science</i> separating out from the others. When comparing a selection of journals within or among disciplines, we recommend collecting multiple citation-based metrics for a sample of relevant and realistic journals to calculate the composite rankings and their relative uncertainty windows.</p></div>