Academic Journal Guide 2018 names ‘world elite’ business titles

Revised edition reignites debate about value of journal ratings in academia

March 14, 2018
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Some 180 new business and management journals have been added to the Chartered Association of Business Schools’ Academic Journal Guide 2018, reigniting debate about the role of such ratings in academia.

The guide, which is reviewed and published every three years, aims to help academics make decisions about where they should seek to have their work published by ranking journals on a scale of 1 (“of modest standard”) to 4*, considered the global “elite”. 

But it is also used by many business school deans to make decisions about the performance of their researchers, triggering criticism from academics who say that it is wrong to assess scholars only on the basis of where they publish, not what they publish.

This year’s list comprises 1,582 journals, up from 1,402 in 2015 – an increase of 13 per cent. This time around, the focus has been on assessing new journals being added to the list, with a full reassessment of all listed titles expected in the 2021 edition.

For interim reviews such as this one, however, journals that are already listed can request to have their position in the table reconsidered. As a result, there are four additions to the list of top 4* journals: Research Policy, published by Elsevier, Psychological Science, published by Sage, the Journal of Applied Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association, and Public Administration Review, published by Wiley. Each had previously been marked at a level 4 in the 2015 guide. 

Angus Laing, dean of Lancaster University Management School and chair of the guide’s management committee, said that the increasing number of periodicals listed reflected the “sheer scale and ongoing growth” of the business and management academic community. 

“The key development we have seen and continue to see in recent years is the growth in the number of journals looking at specialist topics in specific areas and that’s very much what one would expect to see,” he said. 

Writing in Times Higher Education in 2015, Dennis Tourish, professor of leadership and organisation studies at Royal Holloway, University of London, said that many researchers felt “deep unease” about the guide, highlighting how much high-quality work was found outside “top journals” and arguing that so-called leading periodicals “often publish work which is uninteresting, mistaken and irrelevant”.

Professor Tourish argued that the guide was “hopelessly biased” in favour of US journals, which are “dominated by functionalist and positivist perspectives that take the status quo for granted, ask few critical questions of business practice, and largely ignore the most important issues facing business and society”.

Speaking to THE, Professor Laing said that this year’s analysis had increased the weighting on peer review, drawing on a scientific committee that was largely made up of non-US academics, in response to concerns that relying too heavily on metrics risked ignoring the opinions of the scholarly community.

Professor Laing said that it was a “valid observation that European journals do not have the standing of US journals”, but argued that this was “not to do with the guide at all”.

“It’s more to do with the way in which the journals have evolved over time and it’s a broader issue about how US journals in particular are seen as influential by scholars in rising institutions in Asia,” he said.

Simon Linacre, senior publisher at Emerald Group Publishing, which has had a number of its new journals listed in the guide this year, said that while such rankings could never make for a perfect assessment, it was “very rewarding” to have quality titles recognised by “such an important UK body”.

“The AJG is not just known in UK business schools, but as a global publisher we hear about from our authors and customers from many different countries,” he said. “The fact that many more of our journals are included in the guide means that the quality research we publish will reach a much wider audience in the UK and throughout the world.”

World elite: 4* journals in the Academic Journal Guide 2018


  • Accounting Review
  • Accounting, Organizations and Society
  • Journal of Accounting and Economics
  • Journal of Accounting Research

Economics, econometrics and statistics

  • American Economic Review
  • Annals of Statistics
  • Econometrica
  • Journal of Political Economy
  • Quarterly Journal of Economics
  • Review of Economic Studies

General management, ethics and social responsibility

  • Academy of Management Journal
  • Academy of Management Review
  • Administrative Science Quarterly
  • Journal of Management


  • Journal of Finance
  • Journal of Financial Economics
  • Review of Financial Studies

International business and area studies

  • Journal of International Business Studies

Information management

  • Information Systems Research
  • MIS Quarterly 


  • NEW: Research Policy


  • Journal of Consumer Psychology
  • Journal of Consumer Research
  • Journal of Marketing
  • Journal of Marketing Research
  • NEW: Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science
  • Marketing Science

Operations and technology management

  • Journal of Operations Management

Operations research and management science

  • Management Science
  • Operations Research

Organisation studies

  • Organization Science

Psychology (general)

  • Psychological Science

Psychology (Organisational)

  • Journal of Applied Psychology

Public Sector and Health Care

  • NEW: Public Administration Review

Social sciences

  • American Journal of Sociology
  • American Sociological Review
  • Annual Review of Sociology


  • Strategic Management Journal

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Reader's comments (1)

No business law journals - not very comprehensive list. ABS a waste of space and their views on academic journals no validity

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