Thursday, 21 July 2016

A 2016 ranking of economics journals based on citations in top 5 journals


There have been a number of high quality economics journals launched in the last decade, including the AEJ series and those published by the Econometric Society. Most existing rankings of journals are not updated to include these. I would like to generate discussion on what is an appropriate ranking of economics journals taking into account these new journals.

A simple approach to measuring impact is to measure citations in top 5 journals. The top 5 general journals (AER, ECMA, JPE, QJE and REStud) are almost universally recognized as the top 5 journals in economics, and clearly above the next set of journals. Citations in these journals are roughly of equal quality. These journals, collectively, also cover all areas of economics.

A similar approach to measuring impact was used in the article "A Journal Ranking for the Ambitious Economist" by Kristie M. Engemann and Howard J. Wall. They used an earlier period that did not include the new journals, and focused on citations in a list of 7 top general journals of a smaller set of journals.

The table below shows the results of an exercise we did in the Department of Economics at the National University of Singapore based on recent periods that allow us to measure the relative impact of the new journals, as well as based on a longer period in which the new journals cannot be compared. To get the impact factor of a journal X published in year t and cited in year k, we got an RA to measure the total number of citations in top 5 articles in year k of articles published in journal X in year t, and divide by the number of articles published in journal X in year t.

To get an impact factor over a range of years, say 2010-2015, we apply the same methodology, so aggregate citations in top 5 journals for years in that window of all articles published in a particular journal in the years in that window, divided by the total number of articles published in that journal in the years in that window.    

Note we remove any citations in AER Papers and Proceedings, but otherwise all citations in top 5 journals are treated equally. We do not rank JEL or JEP. We scale impact factors so AER has an impact factor of 1.


The results are given below for the longest period we have data on 2003-2015.

Impact Relative
Articles  Citations Factor Impact
1 Quarterly Journal of Economics 533 2089 3.919 1.786
2 Econometrica  767 2315 3.018 1.375
3 Journal of Political Economy 447 1331 2.978 1.357
4 Review of Economic Studies 619 1359 2.195 1.000
5 American Economic Review 1341 2944 2.195 1.000
6 Journal of Economic Growth (1999) 155 126 0.813 0.370
7 Journal of Monetary Economics 871 687 0.789 0.359
8 Journal of Labor Economics 329 251 0.763 0.348
9 Rand Journal of Economics 510 340 0.667 0.304
10 Journal of Economic Theory  1430 918 0.642 0.292
11 Review of Economics and Statistics 977 608 0.622 0.284
12 Review of Economic Dynamics 514 316 0.615 0.280
13 Journal of Finance 995 544 0.547 0.249
14 International Economic Review 636 330 0.519 0.236
15 American Economic Review May Issue 1262 583 0.462 0.210
16 Experimental Economics (2003) 352 152 0.432 0.197
17 Journal of International Economics 905 389 0.430 0.196
18 Economic Journal 975 367 0.376 0.171
19 Journal of Public Economics 1341 500 0.373 0.170
20 Journal of Human Resources 444 161 0.363 0.165
21 Review of Financial Studies 1003 359 0.358 0.163
22 Games and Economic Behavior 1340 462 0.345 0.157
23 Journal of Econometrics 1510 519 0.344 0.157
24 Journal of Financial Economics 1285 335 0.261 0.119
25 Journal of Industrial Economics 360 90 0.250 0.114
26 Journal of Development Economics 993 230 0.232 0.106
27 Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 309 70 0.227 0.103
28 Journal of Business & Economic Statistics 502 112 0.223 0.102
29 Journal of Law & Economics 361 79 0.219 0.100
30 Econometric Theory 642 126 0.196 0.089
31 Journal of Applied Econometrics 593 111 0.187 0.085
32 Journal of Economics & Management Strategy 455 82 0.180 0.082
33 Journal of Urban Economics 659 118 0.179 0.082
34 Economic Theory 1118 197 0.176 0.080
35 Journal of Law, Economics & Organization 330 51 0.155 0.070
36 Journal of Money, Credit and Banking 991 146 0.147 0.067
37 Scandinavian Journal of Economics 496 68 0.137 0.062
38 Journal of Economic History 398 54 0.136 0.062
39 European Economic Review 1038 128 0.123 0.056
40 International Journal of Industrial Org 812 91 0.112 0.051
41 Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 1851 189 0.102 0.047
42 Journal of Health Economics 981 92 0.094 0.043
43 Economica 480 40 0.083 0.038
44 Oxford Economic Papers-New Series 480 38 0.079 0.036
45 Labour Economics 739 57 0.077 0.035
46 Economic Inquiry 895 67 0.075 0.034
47 Journal of Economic Dynamics  & Control 1592 113 0.071 0.032
48 Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 655 46 0.070 0.032
49 Journal of Economic Geography 401 26 0.065 0.030
50 National Tax Journal 412 26 0.063 0.029
51 Regional Science and Urban Economics 668 41 0.061 0.028
52 Journal of Mathematical Economics 825 50 0.061 0.028
53 Explorations in Economic History 329 17 0.052 0.024
54 Journal of Population Economics 581 28 0.048 0.022
55 Journal of Comparative Economics 549 26 0.047 0.022
56 Macroeconomic Dynamics (1998) 601 28 0.047 0.021
57 Social Choice and Welfare 913 42 0.046 0.021
58 Economics Letters 4605 189 0.041 0.019
59 Public Choice 1289 40 0.031 0.014
60 Journal of Accounting & Economics 390 12 0.031 0.014
61 Canadian Journal of Economics 740 16 0.022 0.010
62 American Journal of Agricultural Economics 1072 18 0.017 0.008
63 Health Economics 1218 20 0.016 0.007
64 Journal of Banking & Finance 2460 25 0.010 0.005
65 World Development 1970 14 0.007 0.003
66 Ecological Economics 2755 11 0.004 0.002












Here are the results for the longest period in which we can include all the new AEA and ES journals, which is 2010-2015.

Impact Relative
Articles  Citations Factor Impact
1 Quarterly Journal of Economics 251 445 1.773 1.470
2 Econometrica  395 535 1.354 1.123
3 Journal of Political Economy 181 222 1.227 1.017
4 American Economic Review 694 837 1.206 1.000
5 Review of Economic Studies 304 332 1.092 0.906
6 AEJ: Macro (2009) 193 127 0.658 0.546
7 AEJ: Applied Economics (2009) 229 150 0.655 0.543
8 Theoretical Economics (2006) 138 67 0.486 0.403
9 JEEA (2005) 268 130 0.485 0.402
10 AEJ: Economic Policy (2009) 229 90 0.393 0.326
11 Quantitative Economics (2010) 98 37 0.378 0.313
12 AEJ: Micro (2009) 226 82 0.363 0.301
13 Review of Economic Dynamics 249 80 0.321 0.266
14 Journal of Labor Economics 158 44 0.278 0.231
15 Journal of Finance 402 111 0.276 0.229
16 Journal of Economic Theory  714 193 0.270 0.224
17 Journal of Economic Growth (1999) 73 19 0.260 0.216
18 Review of Economics and Statistics 527 137 0.260 0.216
19 Rand Journal of Economics 201 52 0.259 0.215
20 Journal of Monetary Economics 358 91 0.254 0.211
21 International Economic Review 299 69 0.231 0.191
22 Journal of International Economics 463 96 0.207 0.172
23 American Economic Review May Issue 647 122 0.189 0.156
24 Journal of Business & Economic Statistics 247 46 0.186 0.154
25 Economic Journal 446 83 0.186 0.154
26 Review of Financial Studies 584 108 0.185 0.153
27 Journal of Econometrics 865 128 0.148 0.123
28 Games and Economic Behavior 761 111 0.146 0.121
29 Journal of Financial Economics 733 106 0.145 0.120
30 Econometric Theory 280 40 0.143 0.118
31 Journal of Public Economics 642 84 0.131 0.108
32 Experimental Economics (2003) 195 25 0.128 0.106
33 Journal of Industrial Economics 172 19 0.110 0.092
34 Journal of Human Resources 198 21 0.106 0.088
35 Journal of Development Economics 523 52 0.099 0.082
36 Economic Theory 433 38 0.088 0.073
37 Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 143 12 0.084 0.070
38 International Journal of Industrial Org 362 25 0.069 0.057
39 Journal of Economic History 191 11 0.058 0.048
40 Journal of Urban Economics 275 15 0.055 0.045
41 Journal of Money, Credit and Banking 514 27 0.053 0.044
42 Journal of Applied Econometrics 310 16 0.052 0.043
43 Journal of Law & Economics 186 9 0.048 0.040
44 Journal of Economics & Management Strategy 228 11 0.048 0.040
45 Scandinavian Journal of Economics 259 11 0.042 0.035
46 European Economic Review 544 23 0.042 0.035
47 Economic Inquiry 544 21 0.039 0.032
48 Labour Economics 475 18 0.038 0.031
49 Economica 223 8 0.036 0.030
50 Journal of Health Economics 520 18 0.035 0.029
51 Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 318 11 0.035 0.029
52 National Tax Journal 206 7 0.034 0.028
53 Journal of Law, Economics & Organization 180 6 0.033 0.028
54 Journal of Mathematical Economics 495 15 0.030 0.025
55 Explorations in Economic History 176 5 0.028 0.024
56 Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 1125 30 0.027 0.022
57 Journal of Population Economics 315 8 0.025 0.021
58 Journal of Comparative Economics 304 7 0.023 0.019
59 Social Choice and Welfare 484 9 0.019 0.015
60 Macroeconomic Dynamics (1998) 378 7 0.019 0.015
61 Economics Letters 2682 44 0.016 0.014
62 Journal of Economic Dynamics  & Control 873 14 0.016 0.013
63 Journal of Economic Geography 256 4 0.016 0.013
64 Health Economics 647 9 0.014 0.012
65 Public Choice 671 9 0.013 0.011
66 Canadian Journal of Economics 333 3 0.009 0.007
67 American Journal of Agricultural Economics 498 3 0.006 0.005
68 Oxford Economic Papers-New Series 249 1 0.004 0.003
69 Journal of Banking & Finance 1578 6 0.004 0.003
70 World Development 1184 4 0.003 0.003
71 Regional Science and Urban Economics 399 1 0.003 0.002
72 Ecological Economics 1479 1 0.001 0.001
73 Journal of Accounting & Economics 215 0 0.000 0.000






The new journals come up very strongly. Some traditionally top field journals fall down considerably. To what extent is this citation data picking up real changes in journal quality and impact, and to what extent are the changes driven by some bias that comes from the approach used or that applies when citations are measured for new journals?

I welcome suggestions of alternative rankings that incorporate the new journals or comments on the plausibility of these results. Perhaps you can submit your own ranking (not necessarily of all the journals here). Please clearly identify yourself or your comments will be deleted. I want to encourage a high level discussion on journal ranking methods and results among colleagues in the economics profession. Hopefully, this will lead to a better understanding of how to appropriately rank the new journals along side existing journals.