Friday, January 23, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: ERIH to abolish A-C grades in journal ranking

We have reported before here on the European Science Foundation's "European Reference Index for the Humanities" (ERIH) and its journal rankings list. This list ranks journals A, B, and C --- with a list of unclassified journals.

In today's Times Higher Education, we find this story with the following breaking news:

"The architects of a controversial European journal-listing system for arts and humanities have made a major concession to those who fear that the index will be misused to judge the quality of academics' work.

The European Reference Index for the Humanities (ERIH) uses letters - A, B and C - to divide journals into "high-ranking international publications" (A), "standard international publications" (B) and those with important "local/regional significance" (C).

But the European Science Foundation (ESF), which is behind the index, agreed to drop the letters [. . .]".

Instead of letter rankings, there will be "descriptors" noted next to each journal. These will be made public over the next two months.

What is my view? I suspect that the descriptor-approach may be better than the rankings-approach . . . but this will depend on how each is described. Whereas the previous fight concerned ensuring all appropriate journals were at least ranked and then trying to ensure they were ranked appropriately (if they must be ranked at all -- which I continue to oppose), the fight now will turn to how journals are described.

Interested readers are advised to continue to watch this space. I will be following developments very closely not least as I prepare any representations to the ERIH concerning the Journal of Moral Philosophy.

UPDATE: I note that there is no mention of whether this new descriptor-approach will be used for the proposed assessment of book and conference proceeding publishers noted here. I will notify readers of any developments here as they arise.

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