My former advisor, Randy Crane, opened up a can of worms when he sent out what he must have thought was an innocent note to the planning academics’ listserv on ideas for what we’d like to see happen with the Journal of the American Planning Association. It evolved from a request to be open to international scholarship into a nice long discussion of US hegemony in publishing and an old-school discussion on what constitutes rigor and what doesn’t. As usual, quite a bit of defensiveness and a lot of victimy language on both sides of the issue.
I responded this morning to the following effect:
What would a low publication count in JAPA for international scholars really mean?
It could mean A) US scholars are biased if we are getting submissions from scholars outside the US and turning them down disproportionately to domestic submissions (assuming that international scholars are sending their best stuff, which they may not be if they don’t think JAPA is an important outlet for them). The lower publication rate could also indicate that B) international scholars have their own supply of publication outlets that matter to them more than US outlets (At least four people, both international and domestic, have said as much in this discussion).
A is evidence of hegemony and bias and B is the opposite of hegemony and in that case, US scholar bias, however odious, would not have the power to constrain the publication trajectories of international scholars.
One question I had was whether JAPA was indeed publishing fewer papers by international authors than anybody else.
This information proved hard to find, but there is a metric out there on journals that contain international collaborations. Not the same thing, I admit, but it strikes me as a related, if admittedly imperfect, proxy for what we are discussing; whether US journals are insular, and JAPA in particular.
As usual, planners get lumped in with geography and development, so we get apples and oranges. You can also look at the urban studies journals separately. Undoubtedly there is a western bias to what journals are included here.
The international collaboration, percentages, since 2004 generally:
JAPA–has gone up since 2006: ranges from 6 percent to 21.6 percent
Canadian Journal of Urban Research ranges from 4 to 9 percent
Acta Journal Sinica (Chinese journal) ranges from 6 to 18 percent
Forum for Development Studies (Norway) ranges from 8 to 20 percent
Chinese Geographical Science ranges from 8 to 10 percent–higher in earlier years
Geografiska Annaler, Series B, ranges from 8 to 20 percent
Town Planning Review ranges from 20 to 40 percent; it also has gone up over time
Environment and Planning A runs from 10 to 20 percent
Geography Research Forum (Israel) 13 to 25 percent
Journal of the Indian Society of Remote Sensing (couldn’t find anything listed that directly related to planning) ranges from 3 to 8 percent
So JAPA runs with everybody else in terms of international collaborations: some of the German geography journals have lots of international collaborations. Town Planning Review, too.
Looking at different English-language journals (biased towards what I read):
American Economic Review (17 to 30 percent)
Econometrica ( 30 to 45 percent) UK journal
Science (pretty consistently 20 percent)
Epidemiology (25 to 37 percent)
A better indicator would be whether these collaborations include authors from places outside the traditional seats of academic power, but I don’t have that. Also keep in mind that single-authored papers are not counted here, so that single-authored manuscripts don’t get counted one way or another, no matter where from. I don’t know why Scopus is more interested in the collaboration issue than these others.
But in looking at the numbers (not just the ones I’ve listed here), in disciplines where there is an established hierarchy of journals (like economics), the percentages are far higher than in any of the geography and planning journals I can find.
What does that suggest to you? That US economists are less insular/biased than US planners? That because it’s a bigger field, it has more international collaborations published even though co-authoring is a arguably a bigger no-no in economics than it is planning?
Or have economists, by structuring the field around journal hierarchies more rigidly, created an environment where international scholars HAVE to send their stuff to particular journals (most of them US and UK journals) to be reviewed favorably at promotion time? If so, is this concentration in a few journals better for the global cross-pollination of ideas than a multiplicity of outlets, where JAPA matters a lot to Americans but other journals matter more to international scholars and not everybody is reading and writing for the same journals?
Or is it that if you want to get published in the most competitive economics journals, you need to have access to to new and different data sources made possible only through international collaborations?
Is increasing the percentage a sign of increased inclusion or a sign of increased control?
I can’t figure it out.