what does "quality" mean for a journal?
The concept of "high quality journals" is often discussed. My understanding is that this means very different things to different people. Some of the features of such a journal might include:
- has published a lot of good papers at some time in the past (leave aside what is a "good" paper for now)
- is very selective - rejects most submissions
- has many famous researchers on the editorial board
- maintains high ethical standards in review
- has peer review that adds real value to submissions, whether or not they are eventually accepted by the journal
- has a high impact factor or other citation measure
My impression is that 1) and 2) and 3) are the main features that most academics think of, 5) is also important, and 4) and 6) are not as important. The survey of mathematicians I ran in 2016 found this:
The most important factor for respondents [in determining prestige of a journal] was the quality of peer review (median 5). This was followed by the reputation of editors and historical reputation, and selectivity (median 4), then Journal Impact Factor (JIF), Open Access status and external rankings (median 3). The publisher had the lowest median ranking (2), with a mode of 1.
However it also found this:
When we asked for the respondents’ assessment of the importance of these factors in the community’s view, a striking pattern emerged, as shown in Figure 3. For factors that might be considered as traditional markers of prestige (publisher, external rankings, JIF), respondents believe they matter more to the community than they do to themselves. That is, respondents tend to believe themselves less influenced by such “external” factors than the community. For other “traditional” markers (editors’ reputation, historical reputation, degree of selectivity), this was less pronounced but the tendency is in the same direction.
By a strong margin, most respondents view the quality of peer review as more important to themselves than they believe it is to the community.
So: what ought quality mean for a journal, in your opinion?