10.1.1 Worked example: Ethical marketing

Let's assume you have written a paper about ethical marketing (yes it does exist!). You have already noticed that the top-ranked mainstream marketing journals such as Journal of Marketing and Journal of Consumer Research do not seem to publish a lot of papers on this topic and hence are looking for alternative options.

You would simply enter the words ethical marketing in the “The phrase” box. This will provide any articles in which the words ethical marketing appear in that particular order. You will get the same results by including the search term ethical marketing in quotes (“ethical marketing”) in the “All the words” field. If you include the search term ethical marketing without quotes it will provide many more matches as it matches the words in any order and there will be lots of publications that include both these relatively generic words.

As you want to ensure that the journal has published on ethical marketing in recent years, you limit the search to the last ten years. At this stage, you decide not to de-select any of the subject categories as you want to cast the net widely. You can always run the search again with a more restricted number of subject categories if you end up with too many hits. The screenshot below shows the relevant Query pane.

Ethical marketing

The search resulted in 874 hits (including duplicates). As expected many of the most-cited works were books, often generic ones on Marketing Research, Consumer Behavior and International Marketing. However, sorting the results by publication allows us to identify the most important journal outlets. Below, you will find screenshots with the most frequently occurring journals in this search, with a brief discussion of the results for each.

Journal of Business ethics

The Journal of Business Ethics is the most frequently mentioned journal in our search. The screenshot below shows some of the most cited papers.

Journal of Business Ethics

However, although there are a number of papers relating to marketing, most of the papers seem to deal mostly with general business ethics. Even so, this could be an option for a marketing academic who wants to reach out to a more general audience interested in ethics.

Journal of Macromarketing

The second most frequently listed journal in our search is Journal of Macromarketing. The screenshot below shows all of the hits in order of the number of citations. The first article in the list is the most frequently cited journal article in the entire search. Unfortunately, this is partly caused by a Google Scholar fluke that attributed the citations to the original 1986 article to the 2006 update. Even so, it is still the most cited article on the topic if we relax the “last ten years” restriction.

Journal of Macromarketing

The journal has also published a range of other highly cited papers in this field and as such might be an appropriate outlet. However, much of the published research seems to focus on high-level societal issues, quality of life or consumer well-being. This is also reflected in its editorial statement: “The Journal of Macromarketing examines important social issues, how they are affected by marketing, and how society influences the conduct of marketing.” Whether or not this suits your paper obviously depends on its specific topic.

European Journal of Marketing

The journal with the third largest number of hits to the search for keywords ethical marketing was the European Journal of Marketing. The screenshot below shows all resulting papers in order of number of citations. Unfortunately, Google Scholar sometimes abbreviates the title of a journal (see the first five hits) for no apparent reason.

This means that the citation order is not perfect as it starts again with the first article for the non-abbreviated journal title, i.e. the “Grounded theory…” article has more citations than most of the preceding articles. However, as we are mainly interested in journal outlets at the moment, this is not a serious problem.

European Journal of Marketing

Perusing the titles, it is clear that the European Journal of Marketing has a rather broad focus, publishing papers in a variety of areas in marketing. This is reflected in its mission statement: “We welcome novel and ground-breaking contributions from a wide range of research traditions within the broad domain of marketing”. This statement also mentions: “The EJM is receptive to controversial topics, and new, as well as developments that challenge existing theories and paradigms.” Hence, at first glance, this might not be a bad outlet for a topic that is not yet part of the mainstream in Marketing.

Journal of Consumer Marketing

As shown in the screenshot below, the journal of consumer marketing has also published a substantial number of papers containing the key words ethical marketing in the past decade. Not surprisingly, most of these papers focus on the ethical consumer. Hence this journal would be a very appropriate outlet if your paper focused on ethical aspect of consumer behavior.

Journal  of Consumer Marketing

Journal of Public Policy & Marketing

Another article with a fairly large number of papers on this topic is Journal of Public Policy & Marketing. Perusing the article titles, its topics appear to have a fair amount of overlap with the Journal of Macromarketing.

Journal of Public Policy & Marketing

This is confirmed when we look at its editorial statement: Journal of Public Policy & Marketing has adopted the noteworthy mission of publishing thoughtful articles on how marketing practice shapes and is shaped by societally important factors such as ... Hence it appears as if these two journals would be particularly appropriate if your paper focused on the societal issues surrounding ethical marketing.

Journal of Marketing Education

A rather surprising discovery was the fact that the Journal of Marketing Education had published a fairly large number of papers in this area. Hence if your paper had any links to marketing education or investigated perceptions of marketing students, this might be an appropriate outlet for your article.

Journal of Marketing Education

Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science

In your literature review you had already discovered that the mainstream marketing journals do not tend to publish much in the area of ethical marketing. It should therefore come as a pleasant surprise to see that Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, one of the top general marketing journals has published four articles on the broad topic in the past decade.

Concomitant with its general marketing status, its editorial statement indicates that articles in a very broad range of topics are acceptable, including ethics and social responsibility. Hence, if you feel your article is of sufficient quality to merit publication in one of the top journals in marketing, this might be an appropriate choice to reach the widest possible audience in the broad field of marketing.

Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science

Using the “title words only” box to further refine results

Judging from the titles in the results above, some articles didn't really seem to have a major focus on ethical marketing, but instead simply mentioned the words somewhere in the article. Another option therefore is to narrow down your results by clicking the “Title words only” box. The results will only contain articles that have the words ethical marketing (in that order) in their title, although the words do not necessarily appear close together. The screenshot below produces the results in order of the number of citations.

Comparing the journal titles with our previous results shows that most of the same journals appear in the list. However, there are five new journals that appear on the scene: Journal of Business Research, the Academy of Marketing Science Review, Journal of Consumer Affairs, Ethics & Behavior and Journal of International Marketing. These journals did not feature on our list before as they only published one or two papers on ethical marketing. However, if the titles appear relevant to your paper, they might be worth considering.

Using title words