Abstract: Ranking Social Work Journals: Faculty Perceptions of Quality and Prestige, H-Index Values, and Impact Factors (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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581P Ranking Social Work Journals: Faculty Perceptions of Quality and Prestige, H-Index Values, and Impact Factors

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Mansoo Yu, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO
David R Hodge, PhD, Professor and Honors Faculty, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ
Background/Aims: Disseminating scholarship in top-ranked disciplinary journals can have a major impact on career visibility, trajectory, and success. Understanding which journals are viewed as highly ranked can facilitate scholars’ ability to secure grants, obtain tenure, and effect social change. This study compares two basic approaches to ranking disciplinary journals: faculty perceptions of quality and prestige, and two citation-based methods: h-index values and impact factors (IFs). Given that all methods purport to measure the same underlying construct—namely journal quality—we expect that all approaches will be significantly related with each other, at least to some degree.

Methods: To create a current, reputational-based ranking of disciplinarily periodicals, a national sample of social work tenure-track/tenured faculty (N=307) evaluated the overall quality and prestige of disciplinary social work periodicals (N=64) in 2019. Overall quality was measured by calculating the mean scores of faculty’s responses to the overall quality item (assessed on a 0-10 scale). Prestige was determined by a formula used in previous research, namely prestige equals the square root of the proportion of faculty indicating familiarity with a given journal multiplied by the mean overall quality rating (Sellers et al., 2004). Prior faculty perceptions of quality and prestige were obtained from Sellers et al. (2004), Google Scholar h-index values—calculated over a 10-year window—from Hodge and Lacasse (2011), and 2008 and 2017 IFs from Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science portal. To conduct the comparisons, Spearman correlation coefficients were calculated.

Results: Descriptive analyses revealed the top five periodicals in overall quality in declining order were Social Service Review (SSR), Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research (JSSWR), Research on Social Work Practice (RSWP), British Journal of Social Work (BJSW), and Social Work Research (SWR), whereas the top five in mean prestigious scores were SSR, JSSWR, RSWP, SW (Social Work), and BJSW. Correlation analyses showed current faculty perceptions of quality exhibited the strongest correlation with current prestige scores (rs=.93), followed by the 10-year Google Scholar h-index values from 2010 (rs=.81), faculty perceptions of quality in 2000 (rs=.76), the 2008 IFs (rs=.73), the 2000 prestige score (rs=.65), and, finally, the 2017 IFs (rs=.48). In addition, the current prestige score exhibited the strongest correlations with the 2010 Google Scholar h-index values (rs=.83) and the 2008 IFs (rs=.80), and the lowest correlation with the 2017 IFs (rs=.56).

Conclusions and Implications: Consistent with our expectations, current faculty perceptions of overall quality and prestige in 2019 were significantly related to all the other approaches used in this study to determine journal quality. The findings provide some tentative guidance to disciplinary stakeholders who make assessments about top tier journals in various professional capacities. For example, the strong correlation between faculty perceptions in 2019 and 2000 suggests that views regarding journal quality are fairly stable across relatively large periods of time. This finding may be helpful for faculty planning their tenure/promotion trajectories.