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How Journal Rankings can suppress Interdisciplinary Research – A Comparison between Innovation Studies and Business & Management

  • Ismael Rafols
  • Loet Leydesdorff
  • Alice O'Hare
  • Paul Nightingale
  • Andy Stirling

This study provides new quantitative evidence on how journal rankings can disadvantage interdisciplinary research during research evaluations. Using publication data, it compares the degree of interdisciplinarity and the research performance of innovation studies units with business and management schools in the UK. Using various mappings and metrics, this study shows that: (i) innovation studies units are consistently more interdisciplinary than business and management schools; (ii) the top journals in the Association of Business Schools’ rankings span a less diverse set of disciplines than lower ranked journals; (iii) this pattern results in a more favourable performance assessment of the business and management schools, which are more disciplinary-focused. Lastly, it demonstrates how a citation-based analysis challenges the ranking-based assessment. In summary, the investigation illustrates how ostensibly ‘excellence-based’ journal rankings have a systematic bias in favour of mono-disciplinary research. The paper concludes with a discussion of implications of these phenomena, in particular how resulting bias is likely to affect negatively the evaluation and associated financial resourcing of interdisciplinary organisations, and may encourage researchers to be more compliant with disciplinary authority.

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Paper provided by DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies in its series DRUID Working Papers with number 11-05.

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Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:aal:abbswp:11-05
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