June 17, 2013 2 Comments
I wonder about the contribution of journal indexes / databases to the assessment of research quality.
Lately, and against what would be logical given the major changes being experienced by the publishing industry, professors are increasingly required to publish in journals indexed in Journal Citation Reports (JCR), both statewide for accreditation as at universities, especially in private ones.
- This adds pressure to scholars and journals alike, because the journals indexed there are numbered.
- Moreover, there are other relevant indexes that serve the same function of research assessment: generalists, such as Scopus, EBSCOHost or DOAJ; regionals, like Latindex or Indian Science Abstract; or specialists, such as Econlit, Medline or BioAbstracts.
If indexes and impact indicators were a kind of accreditation on the quality of journals’ processes, particularly on peer review quality and editorial board, I would understand all this alarm about publishing in first class reputable indexes. But apparently not:
- Being in JCR, journals have to demonstrate to be a regular publication, printed in English, have an international editorial board and other requirements that have little to do with the quality of the papers within.
- Having a journal indexed in Scopus and other known ones, it is enough to filling out a form giving them permission to use the journal data.
- Following the same line, other similar indexes (generalists, regional or specialists), only require an application form to be filled.
So, what are the main sources of prestige for a journal? I pointed just a few:
- Large base of readers.
- Quality of authors and papers.
- Sound peer reviewer processes, with good reviewers and feedback.
- Good Editorial board and clear editorial line, objectives, etc.
If that is somehow true, then, what makes the difference with un-indexed peer review journals? I have not it very clear, it looks like a kind of complex corporate governance system for journals: different publishing stakeholders (indexes, journals, professors, researchers, universities, departments, accreditation bodies, governments, readers, peer reviewers, editors, journal owners, etc.) taking care of research prestige and reputation.
Many voices in academia call for a change, but, is there a better system than journal indexes and impact indicators to assess quality of research?