Branding Scholarly Journals: Transmuting Symbolic Capital into Economic Capital

Auteurs/Authors : Mahdi Khelfaoui, Yves Gingras

In this paper, we analyze a relatively recent commercial strategy devised by large academic publishers, consisting in the branding of their most prestigious scientific journals. Using Pierre Bourdieu’s model of capital conversion, we show how publishers transfer the symbolic capital of an already prestigious journal to derivative journals that capture part of the prestige of the original brand and transform it into new economic capital.

As shown by their high impact factors, these new journals, bearing the mark of the original journal in their titles, are rapidly adopted by researchers. Through manuscript transfer mechanisms, publishers also use part of the papers rejected by their flagship and highly selective jour-nals to recycle and monetize them inlower impactor open access derivativejournals of their lists.