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Journal Article

Sorting out Journals: The Proliferation of Journal Lists in China


Wang,  Jing
Lise Meitner Research Group China in the Global System of Science, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Max Planck Society;

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Wang, J., Halffman, W., & Zhang, Y. H. (2023). Sorting out Journals: The Proliferation of Journal Lists in China. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 74(10), 1207-1228. doi:10.1002/asi.24816.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000D-7875-9
Journal lists are instruments to categorize, compare, and assess research and scholarly publications. Our study investigates the remarkable proliferation of such journal lists in China, analyses their underlying values, quality criteria and ranking principles, and specifies how concerns specific to the Chinese research policy and publishing system inform these lists. Discouraged lists of “bad journals” reflect concerns over inferior research publications, but also the involved drain on public resources. Endorsed lists of “good journals” are based on criteria valued in research policy, reflecting the distinctive administrative logic of state-led Chinese research and publishing policy, ascribing worth to scientific journals for its specific national and institutional needs. In this regard, the criteria used for journal list construction are contextual and reflect the challenges of public resource allocation in a market-led publication system. Chinese journal lists therefore reflect research policy changes, such as a shift away from output-dominated research evaluation, the specific concerns about research misconduct, and balancing national research needs against international standards, resulting in distinctly Chinese quality criteria. However, contrasting concerns and inaccuracies lead to contradictions in the “qualify” and “disqualify” binary logic and demonstrate inherent tensions and limitations in journal lists as policy tools.