Friday, August 29, 2008


I'm currently one of the editors of The Cambridge Classical Journal, the journal of the Cambridge Philological Society. We get a steady stream of correspondence concerning various rankings of journals, usually with the aim of producing a simple method of comparing the value of academic published research output. Journals are assessed in various ways according to their submissions to acceptances ratio, international standing, and the like. (See, for example, the European Reference Index for the Humanities, ERIH, and their initial listings here.)

It's not something I find particularly helpful and there is a significant danger that such rankings will do damage to any journal that for whatever reason finds itself ranked anything below the top because that will merely discourage submissions. Anyway, it's a tricky issue that is unlikely to be resolved any time soon and keys into a general set of concerns a lot of us are having about the application of anything like quantitative assessment of the value of research output in the arts and humanities. For signs that similar things are going on elsewhere, you might like to read this brief but very clear letter expressing concerns about the ERA (Excellence in Reseach for Australia) and its accompanying press release. (There is also the longer document from the British Academy on peer review.)

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