Intellectual and social similarity among scholarly journals: An exploratory comparison of the networks of editors, authors and co-citations

Authors : Alberto Baccini, Lucio Barabesi, Mahdi Khelfaoui, Yves Gingras

This paper explores, by using suitable quantitative techniques, to what extent the intellectual proximity among scholarly journals is also proximity in terms of social communities gathered around the journals.

Three fields are considered: statistics, economics and information and library sciences. Co-citation networks represent intellectual proximity among journals. The academic communities around the journals are represented by considering the networks of journals generated by authors writing in more than one journal (interlocking authorship: IA), and the networks generated by scholars sitting on the editorial board of more than one journal (interlocking editorship: IE).

Dissimilarity matrices are considered to compare the whole structure of the networks. The CC, IE, and IA networks appear to be correlated for the three fields. The strongest correlation is between CC and IA for the three fields.

Lower and similar correlations are obtained for CC and IE, and for IE and IA. The CC, IE, and IA networks are then partitioned in communities. Information and library sciences is the field in which communities are more easily detectable, whereas the most difficult field is economics.

The degrees of association among the detected communities show that they are not independent. For all the fields, the strongest association is between CC and IA networks; the minimum level of association is between IE and CC.

Overall, these results indicate that intellectual proximity is also proximity among authors and among editors of the journals. Thus, the three maps of editorial power, intellectual proximity, and authors communities tell similar stories.


The weakening relationship between the Impact Factor and papers’ citations in the digital age

Authors : George A. Lozano, Vincent Lariviere, Yves Gingras

Historically, papers have been physically bound to the journal in which they were published but in the electronic age papers are available individually, no longer tied to their respective journals. Hence, papers now can be read and cited based on their own merits, independently of the journal’s physical availability, reputation, or Impact Factor.

We compare the strength of the relationship between journals’ Impact Factors and the actual citations received by their respective papers from 1902 to 2009. Throughout most of the 20th century, papers’ citation rates were increasingly linked to their respective journals’ Impact Factors.

However, since 1990, the advent of the digital age, the strength of the relation between Impact Factors and paper citations has been decreasing. This decrease began sooner in physics, a field that was quicker to make the transition into the electronic domain.

Furthermore, since 1990, the proportion of highly cited papers coming from highly cited journals has been decreasing, and accordingly, the proportion of highly cited papers not coming from highly cited journals has also been increasing.

Should this pattern continue, it might bring an end to the use of the Impact Factor as a way to evaluate the quality of journals, papers and researchers.”