28 oct. 2016

Journal Rankings in Sociology: Using the H Index with Google Scholar

Jerry A. Jacobs
Journal Rankings in Sociology: Using the H Index
with Google Scholar
The American Sociologist, 2016, 47(2): 192–224
DOI 10.1007/s12108-015-9292-7

Background
There is considerable interest in the ranking of journals, given the intense pressure to place articles in the Btop^ journals. In this article, a new index, h, and a new source of data—Google Scholar – are introduced, and a number of advantages of this methodology to assessing journals are noted. This approach is attractive because it provides a more robust account of the scholarly enterprise than do the standard Journal Citation Reports. Readily available software enables do-it-yourself assessments of journals, including those not otherwise covered, and enable the journal selection process to become a research endeavor that identifies particular articles of interest. While some critics are skeptical about the visibility and impact of sociological research, the evidence presented here indicates that most  sociology journals produce a steady stream of papers that garner considerable attention.

Methods
The analysis covered 120 sociology journals for the period 2000–2009, and 140 journals for the period 2010–2014. I started with the list of 99 journals included in the Web of Science sociology subject category in 2010, when research on this project began. In several cases, the classification of these publications as academic sociology journals may be questioned on the grounds of subject matter (eg., Cornell Hospitality Quarterly) or because of the publication’s explicit interdisciplinary orientation (Social Science Research, Population and Development Review). I included these journals on the grounds of both inclusiveness and comparability.
Data for the bibliometric analysis in this article are retrieved in the Google Scholar database, which could be obtained and extracted with the assistance of the Publish or Perish software 

Results
(Table 1 reports several measures of the visibility of 120 sociology journals. The proposed measure h, calculated over the period 2000–2009, is provided along with the standard JCR Impact factor and the relatively new 5-year impact factor. Table 1 is ordered by the journal’s score on the h statistic measured over the period 2000–2009. I also include a measure of h based on the most recent five years of exposure. Two other statistics, the 5-year and 10-year g statistics, are also listed.
Conclusion
Most sociology journals examined here publish a considerable number of papers that achieve a substantial degree of scholarly visibility. The journal rankings presented here are based on the h index and draw from the Google-Scholar data base. The measures capture more citations than the traditional journal impact factor because of the longer time frame and because Google Scholar captures a broader range of citations both from journals and from other sources. The PoP software is informative because it identifies specific, highly cited papers, and thus serves as a bibliographic tool and not just a journal ranking metric.
While the position of individual journals shifts somewhat with the new measure, by and large a steep hierarchy of journals remains. It is interesting, however, to note that the top cited paper in a journal is not unduly constrained by the journal’s rank: even modestly ranked journals often publish several highly visible papers. While certain aspects of journal rankings remain controversial, in my view the practice of journal rankings is likely to remain with us, and consequently improved and more comprehensive assessments are to be preferred to more limited ones.
Available
 http://rd.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12108-015-9292-7

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