[iDC] Fwd: 22.279 journals under threat

jeremy hunsinger jhuns at vt.edu
Fri Aug 27 12:28:32 UTC 2010

Given the recent discussion of the RAE, I thought i'd remind people of this little bit of recent history:) 

Begin forwarded message:

> From: Humanist Discussion Group <willard.mccarty at MCCARTY.ORG.UK>
> Date: October 17, 2008 1:51:02 AM EDT
> To: humanist at Princeton.EDU
> Subject: 22.279 journals under threat
> Reply-To: Humanist Discussion Group <willard.mccarty at MCCARTY.ORG.UK>
>              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 22, No. 279.
>      Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
>                       www.princeton.edu/humanist/
>                    Submit to: humanist at princeton.edu
>        Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2008 06:39:40 +0100
>        From: Humanist Discussion Group <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>        Subject: [Fwd: journals under threat]
> Sorry for x-posting, but I think people need to know this is likely
> going on in their field too.
> Journals under Threat: A Joint Response from History of Science,
> Technology and Medicine Editors
> We live in an age of metrics. All around us, things are being
> standardized, quantified, measured. Scholars concerned with the work of
> science and technology must regard this as a fascinating and crucial
> practical, cultural and intellectual phenomenon. Analysis of the roots
> and meaning of metrics and metrology has been a preoccupation of much of
> the best work in our field for the past quarter century at least. As
> practitioners of the interconnected disciplines that make up the field
> of science studies we understand how significant, contingent and
> uncertain can be the process of rendering nature and society in grades,
> classes and numbers. We now confront a situation in which our own
> research work is being subjected to putatively precise accountancy by
> arbitrary and unaccountable agencies.
> Some may already be aware of the proposed European Reference Index for
> the Humanities (ERIH), an initiative originating with the European
> Science Foundation. The ERIH is an attempt to grade journals in the
> humanities - including "history and philosophy of science". The
> initiative proposes a league table of academic journals, with premier,
> second and third divisions. According to the European Science
> Foundation, ERIH "aims initially to identify, and gain more visibility
> for, top-quality European Humanities research published in academic
> journals in, potentially, all European languages". It is hoped "that
> ERIH will form the backbone of a fully-fledged research information
> system for the Humanities". What is meant, however, is that ERIH will
> provide funding bodies and other agencies in Europe and elsewhere with
> an allegedly exact measure of research quality. In short, if research is
> published in a premier league journal it will be recognized as first
> rate; if it appears somewhere in the lower divisions, it will be rated
> (and not funded) accordingly.
> This initiative is entirely defective in conception and execution.
> Consider the major issues of accountability and transparency. The
> process of producing the graded list of journals in science studies was
> overseen by a committee of four (the membership is currently listed at
> http://www.esf.org/research-areas/humanities/research-
> infrastructures-including-erih/erih-governance-and-panels/erih-expert-
> panel s .html). This committee cannot be considered representative. It
> was not selected in consultation with any of the various disciplinary
> organizations that currently represent our field such as the European
> Association for the History of Medicine and Health, the Society for the
> Social History of Medicine, the British Society for the History of
> Science, the History of Science Society, the Philosophy of Science
> Association, the Society for the History of Technology or the Society
> for Social Studies of Science. Journal editors were only belatedly
> informed of the process and its relevant criteria or asked to provide
> any information regarding their publications.
> No indication hgiven of the means through which the list was compiled;
> nor how it might be maintained in the future. The ERIH depends on a
> fundamental misunderstanding of conduct and publication of research in
> our field, and in the humanities in general. Journals' quality cannot be
> separated from their contents and their review processes. Great research
> may be published anywhere and in any language. Truly ground-breaking
> work may be more likely to appear from marginal, dissident or unexpected
> sources, rather than from a well-established and entrenched mainstream.
> Our journals are various, heterogeneous and distinct. Some are aimed at
> a broad, general and international readership, others are more
> specialized in their content and implied audience. Their scope and
> readership say nothing about the quality of their intellectual content.
> The ERIH, on the other hand, confuses internationality with quality in a
> way that is particularly prejudicial to specialist and non-English
> language journals.
> In a recent report, the British Academy, with judicious understatement,
> concludes that "the European Reference Index for the Humanities as
> presently conceived does not represent a reliable way in which metrics
> of peer-reviewed publications can be constructed" (Peer Review: the
> Challenges for the Humanities and Social Sciences, September 2007:
> http://www.britac.ac.uk/reports/peer-review). Such exercises as ERIH can
> become self- fulfilling prophecies. If such measures as ERIH are adopted
> as metrics by funding and other agencies, then many in our field will
> conclude that they have little choice other than to limit their
> publications to journals in the premier division. We will sustain fewer
> journals, much less diversity and impoverish our discipline. Along with
> many others in our field, this Journal has concluded that we want no
> part of this dangerous and misguided exercise. This joint Editorial is
> being published in journals across the fields of history of science and
> science studies as an expression of our collective dissent and our
> refusal to allow our field to be managed and appraised in this fashion.
> We have asked the compilers of the ERIH to remove our journals' titles
> from their lists.
> Hanne Andersen (Centaurus)
> Roger Ariew & Moti Feingold (Perspectives on Science)
> A. K. Bag (Indian Journal of History of Science)
> June Barrow-Green & Benno van Dalen (Historia mathematica)
> Keith Benson (History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences)
> Marco Beretta (Nuncius)
> Michel Blay (Revue d'Histoire des Sciences)
> Cornelius Borck (Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte)
> Geof Bowker and Susan Leigh Star (Science, Technology and Human Values)
> Massimo Bucciantini & Michele Camerota (Galilaeana: Journal of Galilean
> Studies)
> Jed Buchwald and Jeremy Gray (Archive for History of Exacft Sciences)
> Vincenzo Cappelletti & Guido Cimino (Physis)
> Roger Cline (International Journal for the History of Engineering &
> Technology)
> Stephen Clucas & Stephen Gaukroger (Intellectual History Review)
> Hal Cook & Anne Hardy (Medical History)
> Leo Corry, Alexandre Métraux & Jürgen Renn (Science in Context)
> D.Diecks & J.Uffink (Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern
> Physics)
> Brian Dolan & Bill Luckin (Social History of Medicine)
> Hilmar Duerbeck & Wayne Orchiston (Journal of Astronomical History &
> Heritage)
> Moritz Epple, Mikael Hård, Hans-Jörg Rheinberger & Volker Roelcke (NTM:
> Zeitschrift für
> Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin)
> Steven French (Metascience)
> Willem Hackmann (Bulletin of the Scientific Instrument Society)
> Bosse Holmqvist (Lychnos) Paul Farber (Journal of the History of
> Biology)
> Mary Fissell & Randall Packard (Bulletin of the History of Medicine)
> Robert Fox (Notes & Records of the Royal Society)
> Jim Good (History of the Human Sciences)
> Michael Hoskin (Journal for the History of Astronomy)
> Ian Inkster (History of Technology)
> Marina Frasca Spada (Studies in History and Philosophy of Science)
> Nick Jardine (Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and
> Biomedical
> Sciences)
> Trevor Levere (Annals of Science)
> Bernard Lightman (Isis)
> Christoph Lüthy (Early Science and Medicine)
> Michael Lynch (Social Studies of Science)
> Stephen McCluskey & Clive Ruggles (Archaeostronomy: the Journal of
> Astronomy in
> Culture)
> Peter Morris (Ambix)
> E. Charles Nelson (Archives of Natural History)
> Ian Nicholson (Journal of the History of the Behavioural Sciences)
> Iwan Rhys Morus (History of Science)
> John Rigden & Roger H Stuewer (Physics in Perspective)
> Simon Schaffer (British Journal for the History of Science)
> Paul Unschuld (Sudhoffs Archiv)
> Peter Weingart (Minerva)
> Stefan Zamecki (Kwartalnik Historii Nauki i Techniki)
> Viviane Quirke
> RCUK Academic Fellow in twentieth-century Biomedicine
> Secretary of the BSHS
> Centre for Health, Medicine and Society
> Oxford Brookes University

jeremy hunsinger
Center for Digital Discourse and Culture
Virginia Tech


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