Are elite journals declining?
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofJournal of the association for information science and technology ; vol. 65, no. 4, pp. 649-655.
Publisher(s)Association for information science and technology
Previous research indicates that during the past 20years, the highest-quality work has been published in anincreasingly diverse and larger group of journals. In thisarticle, we examine whether this diversiﬁcation has alsoaffected the handful of elite journals that are traditionallyconsidered to be the best. We examine citation patternsduring the past 40 years of seven long-standing tradi-tionally elite journals and six journals that have beenincreasing in importance during the past 20 years. To beamong the top 5% or 1% cited papers, papers now needabout twice as many citations as they did 40 years ago.Since the late 1980s and early 1990s, elite journals havebeen publishing a decreasing proportion of these top-cited papers. This also applies to the two journals thatare typically considered as the top venues and oftenused as bibliometric indicators of “excellence”: Scienceand Nature. On the other hand, several new and estab-lished journals are publishing an increasing proportionof the most-cited papers. These changes bring new chal-lenges and opportunities for all parties. Journals canenact policies to increase or maintain their relative posi-tion in the journal hierarchy. Researchers now have theoption to publish in more diverse venues knowing thattheir work can still reach the same audiences. Finally,evaluators and administrators need to know thatalthough there will always be a certain prestige associ-ated with publishing in “elite” journals, journal hierar-chies are in constant ﬂux.