I’ve been remiss in not posting my most recent investigation for the Chronicle: “New Ratings of Humanities Journals Do More than Rank–They Rankle.” It looks at an ambitious project in Europe called ERIH, or the European Reference Index for the Humaniities. ERIH assigns journals in the humanities and social sciences to three categories: A, B, or C.
The people behind ERIH insist that the categories do not represent grades–in other words, they’re not meant to be judgments on the quality of the various journals, just assessments of how widely read each journal is. A lot of scholars don’t buy that argument. (Neither, I’ve now learned, does the British Academy. At least it didn’t in 2006. Scroll down to section 6.5 here.)
As I describe in the story, some journal editors have launched a revolt, and American scholars have begun to realize that this isn’t just a European phenomenon. Many U.S.-based journals are already listed in ERIH’s rankings, and there’s no guarantee we won’t see a homegrown equivalent of ERIH one of these days.
What’s fascinating to me isn’t the journal rankings per se but how they’re part of a global push to measure humanistic scholarship the way scientific research is judged–by citation indexes and other metrics. Australia, for instance, has undertaken a massive review of research across the disciplines called ERA, or the Excellence for Research in Australia Initiative.
The takeaway: Humanists are alarmed by this trend, and they have reason to be.