Last year I reported how Australia ranked over 20,000 peer-reviewed journals. The Australian now reports that Innovation Minister Kim Carr has announced that the Excellence in Research for Australia initiative will no longer assign rankings to journals.
The Minister said “There is clear and consistent evidence that the rankings were being deployed inappropriately within some quarters of the sector, in ways that could produce harmful outcomes, and based on a poor understanding of the actual role of the rankings. One common example was the setting of targets for publication in A and A* journals by institutional research managers.”
Instead of ranking, each publication will be provided with a “publication profile,” indicating how often it was chosen by academics in a given field. Hmmm, sounds like an impact factor…
The Australian Research Council (a statutory authority within the Australian government) started their Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) program in 2008. Part of their mission was to assess research quality within Australia’s higher education institutions. To that end, panels of experts evaluated 20,712 peer-reviewed journals and assigned a quality tier to each journal. The results are now available as an Excel spreadsheet. The list is huge, and covers mathematics, economics, education, law, chemistry, physics, earth sciences, etc. Readers of this blog will probably be most interested in the Medical and Health Sciences category, which has 4,368 journals. Journals within each category, along with their quality tier assignment can be found in html format (Medical and Health Sciences are category 11 and its subdivisions), or you can sort the spreadsheet. A detailed breakdown of all the categories and subdivisions is available, but be aware this document is 424 pages.
Journals were assigned to one of four tiers, briefly described below. Complete definitions of the tiers are available.
A* – one of the best in its field
A – very high quality
B – solid, though not outstanding reputation
C – journals that do not meet the criteria of the higher tiers
This extensive, evaluated list could be very useful for measuring the quality of a medical library’s journal collection. How many of your journals fall into each tier? When it’s time to cancel journals, those in the C tier could become prime candidates, depending on local usage. When a new program is started at your institution, this list would be helpful in quickly finding the top journals in that field. (While Impact Factors from Journal Citation Reports are helpful, that commercial product has far fewer titles than this list.) Let’s hope this program can maintain such a useful list into the future. Good on ya, Australia.
Please see the May 31, 2011 update on this post.