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PSAP (LSEHD) Doctoral Students Library Guide


Journal Quality

Assessing Journal Quality

A photograph of blue shelves in a library, each covered with stacks of print journals.Librarians are frequently asked to provide rankings of journals in particular disciplines. Though there are many supposedly authoritative lists that rank journals, it might be wise to heed the motto caveat lector. The problem is who is the “authority" behind the “authoritative"? And how are they qualified to be authoritative?

Some rankings are essentially based on people’s opinions, e.g. faculty are asked to rank journals in their fields. A  common problem with such surveys is that the resultant lists often ignore journals focusing on more out of the way disciplinary areas; frequently they disproportionately represent American journals; and they often do not give appropriate attention to newer journals. Even when journal ranking lists utilize bibliometrics one should bear in mind that no single metric, each having a specific focus and bias, can address all relevant variables. Moreover, while a particular metric might be useful for one subject area, it might be quite inappropriate for another.

BC Libraries have produced a guide Assessing Journal Quality that considers certain evaluative criteria under the following headings: