, Volume 81, Issue 2, pp 333-345

Quality is in the eye of the beholder? An evaluation of impact factors and perception of journal prestige in the UK

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Abstract

A number of proxy measures have been used as indicators of journal quality. The most recent and commonly employed are journal impact factors. These measures are somewhat controversial, although they are frequently referred to in establishing the impact of published journal articles. Within psychology, little is known about the relationship between the ‘objective’ impact factors of journals and the ‘subjective’ ratings of prestige and perceived publishing difficulty amongst academics. In order to address this, a cross-sectional web-based survey was conducted in the UK to investigate research activity and academics’ views of journals within three fields of psychology; cognitive, health and social. Impact factors for each journal were correlated with individual academic’s perceptions of prestige and publishing difficulty for each journal. A number of variables pertaining to the individual academic and their place of work were assessed as predictors of these correlation values, including age, gender, institution type, and a measure of departmental research activity. The implications of these findings are discussed in relation to perceptions of journal prestige and publishing difficulty, higher education in general and the assessment of research activity within academic institutions.