The decision to use Web of Science citation data for ERA 18 in unsettling some
Last week the ARC announced it will use the Web of Science data base for next year’s Excellence in Research for Australia performance review, (CMM August 23). This is being met with increasing alarm, as research experts worry that WoS reflects the present status-structure in research publishing and pays to little heed to new research thinking in innovative outlets.
As one local journal editor tells CMM; “using Web of Science means that we become very US-centric in rating quality research. WoS is still behind in recognising the social sciences, and it eventually favours journals based on positive (quantitative) rather than interdisciplinary and critical (mainly qualitative) research.”
There is certainly no doubting that WoS reinforces the status of journals publishing on ideas that appeal to the biggest markets, at the expence of specialist subjects, which inevitably includes all addressing specifically Australian issues. As WoS owner Clarivate explains;
“the core literature for all scholarly disciplines may be concentrated in a relatively small number of journals.”
Economists and business researchers fear for publishing futures
Business and economic academics are alarmed by talk of a new journal ranking methodology for the Australian Business Deans Council. Word is that international experts will compile a quantitative list, with fears that Web of Science will be the base. “If we follow some international rankings then journals that publish work on Australian economics, Australian economic policy and industrial relations in Australia will all be down-graded to “C” status, i.e. “not relevant to academic excellence,” one senior researcher warns colleagues in a call-to -arms circulating now.
According to ABDC vice president and Deakin U executive dean of business and law, Mike Ewing, “this year the Australian Business Deans’ Council journal list will be reviewed by an external expert panel. The composition of that independent panel is being finalised.”
Professor Ewing adds, “the 2017 review follows two earlier list reviews undertaken with wide national consultation, which inevitably saw some lobbying by vested interests.”
“ABDC members are in favour of the proposed review to provide external validation of the list and ensure the list remains relevant in light of the federal government’s stronger focus on impact. The list will remain a ranking of business journals to primarily serve the needs of the Australian and New Zealand business-related academic community,” he says.
Last year’s ranking assessed 2785 journals, some 90 published in Australia. It is hard to see how the 2017 list will be worse for them. In 2016 a bare 20 rated A, 26 scored B and 41 C. The only A*, CMM could find last year was the Federal Law Review out of ANU, ( CMM September 8 2016).