The European Science Foundation
has been working on ranking academic journals in various
disciplines. Here are their brand new rankings of journals
and in history and philosophy of science
I recently spoke with a member of the committee that ranked philosophy journals. He explained the ESF criteria as follows:
Journals that "make the discipline" got an A.
Journals with international audiences, authors, and editorial boards got a B.
Other European journals got a C.
It appears that many European journals were considered of too marginal interest to be ranked at all.
significance of these rankings lies in the provincial attitude of
many philosophical communities in Europe (England and
Scandinavia being the main exceptions), including most people who
do "Continental" philosophy. Notice that virtually
all journals that got an A are "analytic" journals and publish
solely in English. Many philosophers in many European countries,
especially within non-"analytic" circles, are very happy to
publish only in their native languages in journals published by their
local friends and colleagues, without the kind of peer reviewing that
goes on in major "analytic" philosophy journals.
Now we all know
that peer reviewing in analytic philosophy suffers from many problems,
starting with how long it takes to get a response from journals.
But if you simply rely on your network of friends to get you published,
this is unlikely to improve the quality of your work. And if you
publish only in, say, Italian, no one around the world is going to read
you anyway (even if your work is good).
When these people apply
for jobs or grants in their own countries, they are likely to be
evaluated by other people who made their whole careers publishing
mostly in their native languages in their local journals. Thus,
e.g., Italian evaluators are quite happy to count, say, an article
in Rivista di Filosofia just as much as an article in Philosophical
Review. And the system perpetuates itself.
Given the difficulty of publishing in good journals, this system actually creates incentives against
publishing in good, international journals: other things
being equal, those who devote their efforts to publishing in
international journals will publish less than those who publish in
local journals, and then they will be at a disadvantage.
the European Science Foundation. By creating a ranking of
journals based on international reputation, the ESF is putting
long-term pressure on the relevant European academic communities to
break their bad habits. With these rankings, the ESF is
saying, "if you guys want to keep counting an article in Rivista di
Filosofia just as much as an article in Philosophical Review, knock
yourself out, but stop pretending to be intellectually honest".
(By the way, Rivista di Filosofia, as far as I know, is actually one of
the best Italian philosophy journals.)
Will this change anything? Probably not in the short run. But eventually, we hope...
Update: For more information on ERIH, here is the ESF FAQ sheet