Ranking of scientific journals at the Faculty of Social Sciences – University of Copenhagen

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The Faculty of Social Sciences' ranking of scientific journals

By ranking scientific journals according to quality, the Faculty of Social Sciences has prepared a list of scientific journals for each of its five subjects/departments, i.e. Anthropology, Economics, Political Science, Psychology and Sociology. Solely scientific journals offering anonymous peer reviews were ranked. The Faculty has divided the journals into the following three categories.

The three categories

A: A very limited number of scientific journals, i.e. the highest ranking international journals within the field(s) of the respective departments.

B: A wider, but still fairly small selection of leading international scientific journals. These scientific journals are first-rate journals within the departments' respective field(s) of research.

C: All other scientific journals within the respective departments' field(s) of research, although in some instances further distinctions are made. For example, the Faculty may distinguish between "C-international" and "C-national" dependent on the authors' nationality/-ies.

Scientific journals ranked in categories A and B have been selected on the basis of a procedure in which international and anonymous peer reviews played a major role. This procedure is described below. The scientific journals in category C were selected by means of a process of elimination, i.e. any scientific journal that did not qualify for categories A and B was ranked as category C.

The purpose of the journal rankings

The resulting lists of scientific journals are used for a wide variety of purposes, e.g. in connection with the Faculty budget in which certain amounts are allotted to the departments in accordance with the departments' achievements with regard to publications in scientific journals ranked in categories A, B or C, respectively. The lists are also used by some departments in connection with performance bonuses for publishing activities.

The lists of scientific journals are intended to act as a strategic tool to be used for example to signal key field(s) of research at the respective departments.

The selection process

During the selection process, the Dean's Office decided that each head of department at the Faculty should be given the opportunity to recommend journals for categories A and B in cooperation with specialists within their respective departments' field(s) of research; specialists that the heads of department themselves appointed for the assignment.
It was, however, necessary for the Dean's Office to establish the total number of journals that were to be recommended by each department, and after having discussed the matter and made some minor modifications, the Dean's Office determined below number of journals for each of its departments:

 Economics  6  50
 Political Science  4  34
 Anthropology  2  20
 Sociology  3  25
 Psychology  6  50






Above numbers are based on an assessment of the relative size of the departments' field(s) of research in relation to international research; an assessment that is loosely based on an assessment of the total number of international scientific journals that is published within the respective fields of research (as accounted for in ‘Journal Citation Reports', ISI Thomson, Web of Science):

  • Economics and Psychology represents the Faculty's largest fields of research and are more or less of equal size.
  • Political Science is the third largest field of research at the Faculty and may reasonably be estimated to represent two-thirds of the size of Economics and Psychology, respectively. 
  • Sociology is smaller than Political Science, and may reasonably be estimated to represent half the size of Economics and Psychology, respectively.
  • Anthropology is smaller than Sociology and may reasonably be estimated to represent two-thirds and three-fourths of this.

Of course the assessment of the respective department's relative sizes and the subsequent quota of scientific journals are controversial issues that have been discussed to a wide extent during the entire procedure.

The request to recommend scientific journals reached the heads of department at the end of 2006. In February 2007, the departments' recommendations for lists of scientific journals reached the Faculty. However, the layout, documentation and also to some extent the selection criteria on which the respective departments had based their recommendations differed. This called for harmonisation.
At the end of March 2007, this phase of harmonising the lists of scientific journals resulted in a fresh set of recommendations with new and increased documentation attached. These lists and the attached documentation were then submitted to peer review by leading international specialists and scientists.

During the early summer of 2007, the Faculty received the peer reviews, which, along with an accompanying letter from the Dean's Office, were then forwarded to the respective heads of department. The peer reviews all considered the scientific journals recommended by the respective departments as bona fide but, at the same time, they recommended that the respective lists be submitted to an extensive revision. The accompanying letter from the Dean's Office explained that the requirements and recommendations indicated in the peer reviews were to be acted upon. Subsequently, it was the responsibility of the departments to revise their respective lists of scientific journals on the basis of the peer reviews and the accompanying letter from the Dean's Office, and in the course of the summer 2007, these revised lists of scientific journals reached the Faculty.

Subsequently, the lists of scientific journals were approved by the Dean's Office and are now considered to be the Faculty's official lists of scientific journals. These lists of scientific journals possess a special quality in that they have been founded on the basis of recommendations and prioritisations put forward by the Faculty departments as well as by international peer review carried out by leading and respected scientists.

The departments rankings of scientific journals