IZA DP No. 2070: An Examination of the Reliability of Prestigious Scholarly Journals: Evidence and Implications for Decision-makers
published in: Economica, 2007, 74 (293), 21-31
In universities all over the world, hiring and promotion committees regularly hear the argument: “this is important work because it is about to appear in prestigious journal X”. Moreover, those who allocate levels of research funding, such as in the multi-billion pound Research Assessment Exercise in UK universities, often come under pressure to assess research quality in a mechanical way by using journal prestige ratings. The results in this paper suggest that such tendencies are dangerous. It uses total citations over a quarter of a century as the criterion. The paper finds that it is far better to publish the best article in an issue of a medium-quality journal like the Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics than to publish the worst article (or often the worst 4 articles) in an issue of a top journal like the American Economic Review. Implications are discussed.