The European Union recently commissioned a study to “reflect on the state of the discipline and general trends within the discipline and in practice” of public administration (brought to you by the EU’s “Coordinating for Cohesion in the Public Sector of the Future” Group–or COCOPS). The subsequent report produced a ranking of public administration/management journals through the results of a survey of European scholars, which asked the respondents to rank the order of preference for where they would submit a good paper.
At my own school, faculty have vigorously (and in a healthy manner, I might add) debated the relative importance of journal ranking. And, this debate is certainly not isolated to my current place of employment. But one might question whether any of this debate really matters. Once a given metric becomes an established point of reference among those judged on that metric, is there any reason to believe that any other metric (qualitative or quantitative) will adequately replace it?
For instance, the Journal Citations Report or Google Scholar Metrics are two rather widely accepted quantitative metrics for journal prominence in a given field. JCR, in particular, has been used for years and is prominently featured as the metric of choice on most social science journals’ websites.
Below, I show tables derived from the COCOPS study, JCR, and Google Scholar Metrics. I have eliminated distinctively “policy”-oriented journals from lists in the “Public Administration” category in both JCR and Google Scholar. Even keeping in mind the obvious European bias in the COCOPS report, an almost identical list would emerge based on five-year impact factor or Google Scholar metrics. In ALL three lists, the top five journals in the field of public administration are PA, PAR, JPART, Governance, and PMR.
Note that some journals do not yet have a 5-year impact factor score (e.g., IPMJ). Nonetheless, it seems to me that there are a couple things you could derive from the COCOPS report… (1) traditionally accepted quantitative rankings are endogenous to choice; or (2) they aren’t a bad rubric for some fields; or (3) both.
|Table 11: Where would you submit a good paper – summary table Journal||Frequency||Percent|
|Public Administration Review||141||10.9%|
|Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory||137||10.6%|
|Public Management Review||80||6.2%|
|International Review of Administrative Sciences||77||6.0%|
|Administration and Society||31||2.4%|
|Journal of European Public Policy||29||2.3%|
|International Public Management Journal||26||2.0%|
|Local Government Studies||26||2.0%|
JCR by 5-year impact factor (*eliminating distinctively “policy” journals… e.g., Journal of European Social Policy, Policy Sciences, JPAM):
|Mark||Rank||Abbreviated Journal Title||JCR Data|
|(linked to journal information)||Total Cites||Impact||5-Year||Immediacy||Articles||Cited|
|1||J PUBL ADM RES THEOR||1816||1.951||3.337||0.486||35||7.6|
|11||PUBLIC ADMIN REV||3250||0.9||1.546||0.308||78||9.9|
|13||PUBLIC MANAG REV||575||0.989||1.291||0.073||55||6.6|
|14||AM REV PUBLIC ADM||474||0.781||1.257||0.114||35||6.7|
|19||INT REV ADM SCI||307||0.559||0.94||0.229||35||5.8|
Google Scholar Metrics by h5-index (*also eliminating distinctively “policy” journals):
|1.||Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory||36||56|
|2.||Public Administration Review||35||54|
|4.||Public Management Review||23||34|
|6.||The American Review of Public Administration||21||25|
|7.||International Review of Administrative Sciences||20||34|
|8.||Social Policy & Administration||20||26|
|9.||International Journal of Public Sector Management||19||30|
|10.||Administration & Society||19||28|
|11.||International Public Management Journal||18||37|
|12.||Australian Journal of Public Administration||16||26|
|13.||International Journal of Public Administration||16||20|