What Makes a Great Journal Great in Economics? The Singer, not the Song
The paper is concerned with analysing what makes a great journal great in economics, based on quantifiable measures. Alternative Research Assessment Measures (RAM) are discussed, with an emphasis on the Thomson Reuters ISI Web of Science database (hereafter ISI). The various ISI RAM that are calculated annually or updated daily are defined and analysed, including the classic 2-year impact factor (2YIF), 5-year impact factor (5YIF), Immediacy (or zero-year impact factor (0YIF)), Eigenfactor score, Article Influence, C3PO (Citation Performance Per Paper Online), h-index, Zinfluence, PI-BETA (Papers Ignored - By Even The Authors), and two new RAM measure, the Self-citation Threshold Approval Rating (STAR) score and the Impact Factor Inflation (IFI) score. The ISI RAM data are analysed for the most highly cited journals in the ISI categories of Economics, Management, Business, and Business - Finance. The journals are chosen on the basis of 2YIF (including self citations by both author and journal). The application to these four ISI categories could be used as a template for other ISI categories in both the Social Sciences and the Sciences, and as a benchmark for newer journals in a range of ISI disciplines. In addition to evaluating high quality research in the most highly cited Economics journals, the paper also compares the most highly cited journals in Management, Business, and Business - Finance, alternative RAM, highlights the similarities and differences in alternative RAM criteria, finds that several ISI RAM capture similar performance characteristics for the most highly cited Economics, Management, Business and Business - Finance journals, determines that the Immediacy and PI-BETA scores are not highly correlated with the other ISI RAM, and hence conveys additional information regarding ISI RAM criteria. Harmonic mean rankings of the 12 RAM criteria for the most highly cited journals in the four categories are also presented. It was shown that emphasizing THE impact factor, specifically the 2-year impact factor, of a journal to the exclusion of other useful and illuminating RAM criteria, can lead to a distorted evaluation of journal performance and influence on the profession.