Outdated advice

June 13, 2013

It is no secret that many business schools, including my own, use the Association of Business Schools’ Academic Journal Quality Guide to determine scholarly performance. Indeed, the publication states that it is “designed primarily to serve the needs of the UK business and management research community” by providing “an indication of where best to publish” to secure tenure, promotion and other rewards. Yet the most recent edition, Academic Journal Quality Guide: Version 4, was unveiled in 2010 and no update has been published since.

The ABS stated that a new version would be released in 2012, but this has now been delayed until 2014. Quite why publication has been pushed back until after the research excellence framework one can only guess. Are we to believe that there have been no changes to the journal rankings since 2010? Rumours are rife that some have been promoted and others relegated.

As an early career researcher, the Guide is supposed to help me “to decide what to read and where to publish” to advance my career. In fact, the first function it sets for itself is to help “early career researchers or…researchers transferring between disciplines/sub-fields or embarking on cross- or interdisciplinary research” to identify the top-quality journals in their fields. But how can such an outdated list meet these aims?

I am as critical of ranking lists as the next researcher, but I am also keen to have a career. The outdated Guide means that there may well be researchers who currently feel secure with their output, perhaps having been awarded tenure, promotion or other rewards, who find that it is quickly downgraded when the new list is published. Equally, early career researchers like me do not know if the top-ranked journals we are submitting to or reading really are top any more.

I now find myself trendspotting rather than relying on such antiquated advice.

Robert Cluley
Lecturer in marketing
Nottingham University Business School

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