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Does the institutional diversity of editorial boards increase journal quality? The case economics field

Abstract

In academic communication, editors exert a significant influence on a journal’s mission and content. We examined how the composition of editorial board members, in particular diversity in terms of institution, is related to journal quality. Our sample comprised 6916 editors who were affiliated with 246 economics journals. Using Stirling Index of Diversity, we provided a single numeric index (DI) to measure the diversity of institutions which is composed of variety, balance, and disparity. Then we related it to journal quality, as reflected in three widely used indices in economics: the five-year impact factor, the association of business schools’ (ABS) journal quality guide, and the eigenfactors. The results show that academic journals in the field of economics are heavily dominated by US institutions, but in terms of geographic distribution, there are more institutions in Europe than in North America. Surprisingly, we found that the diversity of editorial board members in terms of institution is negatively related to ABS ranking, but unrelated to the five-year impact factor and the eigenfactors. While when we removed the US journals from the sample, there was a significant positive impact between institutional diversity and the five-year impact factor. Our study extends the scarce knowledge on the composition of editorial teams and their relevance to journal quality by study the correlation between the institutional diversity index and three different journal quality indices. The implication of this study is that more effort is needed to increase the diversity in the composition of editorial teams in order to ensure transparency and promote equity.

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Source: Leydesdorff et al. (2019), p. 257

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Acknowledgments

This research was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 71874180), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Grant No. 19WKPY150).

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Correspondence to Jing Li.

Appendix: Robustness checks

Appendix: Robustness checks

We examined two new indicators, the number of different institutions (NDII) and Herfindahl–Hirschman Index (HHI), as well as their relationship with three journal quality indices. Especially, NDII counts the different institutions in an editorial board. It is representative of the variety aspect of DI. The formula of NDII is as follows.

$${\text{NDII}} = \mathop \sum \limits_{i = 1} x_{i}$$
(3)

where Xi is the i institution in an editorial board. Each institution is counted once.

HHI is a statistical measure of market concentration known in business and economics, and with also been used as a measure of economic diversity (where concentration = 1- diversification) (Chen 2019; Herfindahl 1950). HHI is representative of the balance aspect of DI.

$${\text{HHI}} = \mathop \sum \limits_{{{\text{i}} = 1}}^{{\text{N}}} \left( {\frac{{{\text{X}}_{{\text{i}}} }}{{\text{X}}}} \right)^{2}$$
(4)

where X is the total size of the EBMs in a journal. Xi is the size of the i institution. Xi/X is the share of the i institution. N is the number of institutions. From the formula, whereas HHI tends to decrease with the dispersion in size between the institutions.

We apply a Spearman’s correlation analysis to find the correlation between the two new variables and the quality indexes. From Table 6,

Table 6 Means, standard deviations, and correlations between two new variables and the quality indexes

it shows the correlations between the two new variables and the quality indexes are not statistically significant. However, we can also find a consistent result that NDII has a positive relationship with Eigenfactors and ABS ranking, and HHI has a negative relationship with Eigenfactors and ABS ranking. In general, two indices of NDII and HHI show the variety aspect and the balance aspect of institutional diversity are positively related with journal quality. It in fact gives a proof and confirms the robust of DI from the reverse side, i.e. DI gives a big importance to the "disparity" criteria of country consequent reduce in journal quality indices. To give an example: While the journal of Review of International Economics has many editors and different institutions in its editorial board, as the institutions are highly concentrated in the US consequent a low DI score. Institutions in the same country are more likely to share the similar cultures, thus have a lower degree of diversity than those institutions in different countries (Goyanes 2019). Inter-geographical differences of institutions should be given the same attention in the construction of institutional diversity (Leydesdorff et al. 2019). On the whole, considering of the aim of this study, DI is regarded as superior to this study, because it is more comprehensive, i.e. in addition to the variety aspect of diversity, the balance aspect and the disparity aspect as well.

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Wu, D., Lu, X., Li, J. et al. Does the institutional diversity of editorial boards increase journal quality? The case economics field. Scientometrics 124, 1579–1597 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-020-03505-6

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Keywords

  • Journal ranking
  • Journal quality
  • Editorial member
  • Editorial diversity
  • ABS journal
  • Economics