About Academic Journals
A scholarly or an academic journal is a refereed or a peer-reviewed periodical which comprises of scholarly work related to a specific academic discipline. These journals serve as ideal forums for presenting and introducing new research work, for their scrutiny and critique of the existing research work. The content of academic journals typically takes the shape of book reviews, review articles and articles presenting original research.
The reason why academic journals are published is aptly put by Henry Oldenburg, the first-ever person to edit the oldest academic journal of the world – Academic journals are published for the purpose of giving researchers an ideal venue for imparting and sharing their knowledge with others, and doing their own bit for the improvement of natural knowledge, and for perfection of all types of philosophical sciences and arts. Academic journal as a term is applicable to various scholarly publications of various fields.
The papers or articles submitted to academic journals can be of two types:
Solicited works wherein an individual is invited for submission of his/her work either by directly contacting him/her or via a call for general submission.
Unsolicited works wherein an individual submits his/her potentially publishable work without being directly asked to do so.
After a submitted article is received, it’s entirely up to the editor of an academic journal to decide whether it should be out-rightly rejected or passed through the peer-review process. In case of latter scenario, the submitted article is subject to review by different outside scholars who’re mostly anonymous and are usually chosen directly by the editors. The number of these referees or peer-reviewers may vary from journal to journal depending on its editorial practice. However, in most cases these peer reviewers are no lesser than two individuals, sometimes even three or more. These reviewers are basically subject matter experts (SMEs) of the particular field in which the article is written. They produce reports related to the style, content and other different aspects of the article, impacting the publishing decision of the editor. Although these reports are mostly confidential in nature, some publishers and academic journals also actively practice the process of public peer-review.
An article can either be directly rejected by the editor or returned back for revision and resubmission. It may even get accepted for publication in the first go itself. Please keep in mind that even the accepted articles can be sometimes subjected to further editing by the editorial staff of the academic journal, before they actually make it to the print version. This peer review process normally takes anywhere from a few weeks’ time to several months.
The prestige and ranking of academic journals
The prestige of an academic journal is established over a long period of time and reflects several different factors, some of which can be expressed quantitatively. Every academic discipline has some dominant journals which receive the maximum number of article submissions every year, and hence have the liberty of selecting their content based on their requirements. However, there’s no certainty that the largest journals are definitely of excellent quality.
The prestige of academic journals related to some specific fields can be sometimes categorized using different letters for ranking their importance in the academic world. The following three techniques of categorizations have been developed over a period of time for assessing academic journals’ quality and creating their rankings:
- Publication power approaches
- Revealed preference and
- Stated preference