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Uncertainty Measures for Economics Journal Impact Factors

  • David I. Stern

    (Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University Author-Email:

Academic economists appear to be intensely interested in rankings of journals, institutions, and individuals. Yet there is little discussion of the uncertainty associated with these rankings. To illustrate the uncertainty associated with citations-based rankings, I compute the standard error of the impact factor for all economics journals with a five-year impact factor in the 2011 Journal Citations Report. I use these to derive confidence intervals for the impact factors as well as ranges of possible rank for a subset of thirty journals. I find that the impact factors of the top two journals are well defined and set these journals apart in a clearly defined group. An elite group of 9-11 mainstream journals can also be fairly reliably distinguished. The four bottom ranked journals are also fairly clearly set apart. For the remainder of the distribution, confidence intervals overlap and rankings are quite uncertain.

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Paper provided by Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University in its series Crawford School Research Papers with number 1302.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:een:crwfrp:1302
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  1. Kalaitzidakis, P. & Mamuneas, T.P. & Stengos, T., 2003. "Rankings of Academic Journals and Institutions," Working Papers 2003-8, University of Guelph, Department of Economics and Finance.
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  6. S. Redner, 1998. "How popular is your paper? An empirical study of the citation distribution," The European Physical Journal B - Condensed Matter and Complex Systems, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 131-134, July.
  7. David N. Laband & Robert D. Tollison, 2003. "Dry Holes in Economic Research," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(2), pages 161-173, 05.
  8. Christian Zimmermann, 2007. "Academic Rankings with RePEc," Working papers 2007-36, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Mar 2009.
  9. Richard Dusansky & Clayton J. Vernon, 1998. "Rankings of U.S. Economics Departments," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 157-170, Winter.
  10. Burton, M P & Phimister, Euan, 1995. "Core Journals: A Reappraisal of the Diamond List," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(429), pages 361-73, March.
  11. Liebowitz, S J & Palmer, J P, 1984. "Assessing the Relative Impacts of Economic Journals," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 22(1), pages 77-88, March.
  12. Tom Coupé, 2003. "Revealed Performances: Worldwide Rankings of Economists and Economics Departments, 1990-2000," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(6), pages 1309-1345, December.
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