Why did you create the JQL and the PoP software?

Third of nine posts based on my webinar for Georgia State University's CIBER - Interview by Tamer Cavusgil

The most frequently used resources on my website (When and why did you create your website?) are the Journal Quality List (2000) and the Publish or Perish software (2006). Both were created for very pragmatic reasons, mainly related to my own (lack of) career progression.

Journal Quality List

In my first permanent academic job at the University of Bradford, I was an ECR member of the research committee. The School evaluated academics using a very old journal ranking, with journals ranked A (high) to D (low).

It was heavily dominated by Economics journals; all Business journals ranked very low. Journal of International Business Studies ranked C, Management International Review ranked D. Other IB journals weren’t even included. So, it was clear to me that I was going to have a hard time to get promoted there.

Therefore, I volunteered to collect journal rankings from other universities to substantiate my argument that we really needed to adjust our ranking. I spent an awful lot of time on this, writing to lots of academics to get the lists, and creating a full spreadsheet with all the rankings.

Then I thought, well… if this helps me why not see whether it can help others too. So, I uploaded the list, which I called the Journal Quality List, on my own website in 2000. Now, nearly 25 years later, the list is in its 70th edition, with 10 different rankings included. Over the years has been attracting an average of 40,000-50,000 page visits a year.

What is most important though is that the whole idea of the Journal Quality list was diversity, not to create “one list to rule them all”, but rather to provide a variety of rankings from different countries. This allowed users to choose the ranking that suited their circumstances best.

Publish or Perish

In 2006 my promotion application for full professor at the University of Melbourne was unsuccessful, mainly because I had not published enough in top US journals. To provide more evidence that - despite that - my work had had significant citation impact I needed to draw on Google Scholar. Remember, many IB journals were not listed in the Web of Science back then.

That’s why my ever resourceful and creative husband created a little software program for me to draw data from GS and calculate a few citation metrics, including the then just introduced h-index. With that I was able to show my impact exceeded that of all other professors and was promptly promoted the year after. Again, I thought well if it helps me, it might be able to help others too. So, I put it on my website as a free download.

Now 17 years, 8 major versions and hundreds of minor versions later, it covers nine data sources and has more than two million users, coming from more than 150 countries, and is still free. Ironically, the software has also become my most cited application, with some 1800 official citations in Google Scholar. Another 7,000 academics have used it in their academic articles without referencing it in the list of references.

It is now used for many purposes beyond citation analysis. This includes literature reviews, finding the right journal for your paper, doing bibliometric analyses, preparing for job interviews, as well as writing laudations or obituaries as I have been doing as bibliometrican for the Academy of International Business in recent years. It currently has more than two million users.

Although it now provides access to 8 data sources, the software initially focused on Google Scholar only. As this had much better coverage in the Social Sciences and Humanities than other data sources it promoted inclusivity in terms of disciplines. However, the more comprehensive coverage of Google Scholar also levelled the playing field for universities focusing on more applied research and for academics publishing in languages other than English.

The ready availability of citation data also helped exposing those academic systems that were not meritocratic; it has been used in several countries – including Italy, Greece, Poland, and Romania – to expose nepotism. Individual users – and particularly female academics – also tell me they find it helpful to expose what they call “academic buffoons”, academics whose image management skills exceed their research skills. Although I do recognise the problems with non-experts doing bibliometric analyses, there is no doubt that Publish or Perish has democratised citation analysis and has increased transparency.

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