ArticlePDF Available

Abstract

This commentary highlights problems of inequity in academic publishing in geography that arise from the increasing use of metrics as a measure of research quality. In so doing, we examine patterns in the ranking of geographical journals in the major global databases (e.g. Web of Science, Scopus) and compare these with a more inclusive database developed by the International Geographical Union. The shortcomings of ranking systems are examined and are shown to include, inter alia, linguistic bias, the lack of representation of books and chapters in books, the geographical unevenness of accredited journals, problems of multi-authorship, the mismatch between ranking and social usefulness and alternative or critical thinking, as well as differences between physical and human geography. The hegemony of the global commercial publishing houses emerges as problematic for geography in particular. It is argued that the global community of geographers should continue to challenge the use of bibliometrics as a means of assessing research quality.
A perspective on problems and prospects for
academic publishing in Geography
Michael Meadows
1
, Ton Dietz
2
and Christian Vandermotten
3
This commentary highlights problems of inequity in academic publishing in geography that arise from the increasing use
of metrics as a measure of research quality. In so doing, we examine patterns in the ranking of geographical journals in
the major global databases (e.g. Web of Science, Scopus) and compare these with a more inclusive database developed
by the International Geographical Union. The shortcomings of ranking systems are examined and are shown to include,
inter alia, linguistic bias, the lack of representation of books and chapters in books, the geographical unevenness of
accredited journals, problems of multi-authorship, the mismatch between ranking and social usefulness and alternative
or critical thinking, as well as differences between physical and human geography. The hegemony of the global
commercial publishing houses emerges as problematic for geography in particular. It is argued that the global community
of geographers should continue to challenge the use of bibliometrics as a means of assessing research quality.
Key words academic publishing; rankings; web of science
1
Environmental and Geographical Science, University of Cape Town, Private Bag X01 Rondebosch, Cape Town, Western Cape 7701, South Africa
Email: michael.meadows@uct.ac.za
2
University of Leiden African Studies Centre, Pieter de la Courtgebouw Leiden/Faculty of Social Sciences Wassenaarseweg 52, Leiden 2333AK, The
Netherlands
3
Université Libre de Bruxelles IGEAT, institut de Gestion de lEnvironnment et dAménagement du Territoire
Email: cvdmotte@ulb.ac.be
Revised manuscript received 10 December 2015
Geo: Geography and Environment, 3 (1), e00016
Introduction
It is apparent that the increasing reliance on impact
factorsas a measure of scholarly journal status
places a heavy burden on the academic community
which has fostered a so-called publish or perish men-
tality. The value of impact factors has been seriously
questioned in a number of disciplines, for example in
language teaching (Lee 2014) and in higher educa-
tion generally (Barnes 2014). The imperative of pub-
lishing, especially in those journals that enjoy an elevated
international status in the most commonly employed
citation databases, causes anxiety among the academic
community in general, but young and early-career re-
searchers and those for whom English is not their home
language are especially likely to feel daunted by the pro-
cess. A consequence is that academics in countries
other than those in which English is the dominant
language of communication may be disadvantaged.
Indeed, Meijaard et al. (2015), in commenting on ac-
ademic publishing in conservation science, note that
some countries have entrenched disadvantages in
relation to initiating research projects and producing
high-quality research outputs. Van Dijk et al. (2014)
report that success in the academic job market is
strongly correlated with the number of publications
in so-called high ranking journals’–nearly all of
which are published in English only. As long ago as
2001, an international team of authors had expressed
concern that (the) growing use of English privileges
the discourse of the Anglophone world even when its
members are working about other parts of the world
(Short et al. 2001)
1
. For example, while there are
more than 200 geography journals published in
China, none of these feature in the international
scientific journal rankings (Sun et al. 2013). This
Anglo-American dominance of the academic journal
market in general, and within geography in particu-
lar, is a form of hegemony that arguably disrupts
and destabilises scholarly inquiry (Kitchin 2005).
Certainly it demands our attention and should
prompt debate.
It is against this background that the International
Geographical Union (IGU) has embarked on a project
The information, practices andviews in this articleare those of the author(s) and donot necessarily reflect the opinion of the Royal Geographical
Society (withIBG). ISSN 2054-4049 doi:10.1002/geo2.16 © 2016 TheAuthors. Geo: Geography and Environment published
by John Wiley & Sons Ltd and the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers).
Page 1 | 2016 | Volume 3 | Issue 1 | e00015
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and
distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Open Access
to produce a more comprehensive and representative
global inventory of the geographical journals (the IGU
Journals Project, see www.igu-online.org). The IGU has
also encouraged discussion of the issue of journal ranking
and its possible effects on publishing within the discipline
at its most recent congress (Cologne 2012) and regional
conferences (notably in Kyoto 2013). In this commentary,
we explore the issue of language bias in scholarly publica-
tions in the discipline as an intervention into broader
discussions on academic publishing and to stimulate de-
bate among geographers around these contentious issues.
The aim is to examine geographical publication citation
patterns in the most widely employed major citation
databases and to compare these with the IGU journals
project list in order to determine the extent of, inter alia,
language bias in academic journals focused on geography
and its various subdisciplines. The implications of inequity
and bias in academic publishing in the discipline are
outlined and some possible responses, including the role
that the IGU could play, are indicated.
Ranking of academic journals and its effect
on author behaviour
The basis of journal ranking is the number of article
citations computed on the basis of a particular data-
base, most commonly those developed by Thomson
Reuters, known as the Web of Knowledge/Web of
Science (ISI) (www.webofknowledge.com) and Scopus
(www.scopus.com). These two instruments utilise a selec-
tion process in determining which journals are included
in their respective databases (the Scopus database only ex-
tends to 1996). Google Scholar (www.scholar.google.com)
is less selective and includes articles from a large number
of websites. An impact factor, related to the frequency
with which articles in that journal are cited, is published
annually for each one in the database. Individual authors
are also the subject of metrics, the most widely applied be-
ing the H-index, which was developed by Hirsch (2005).
The H-index is an attempt to summarise the productivity
and citation impact of an academic author and is calcu-
lated initially by sorting the publications of a researcher
in decreasing order according to their citation frequencies.
In both Web of Science and Scopus the index is derived
mainly on the basis of articles published by the author that
are published in the journals in their database. This situa-
tion has had a significant effect on academic author behav-
iour because, in order to try to increase their H-index,
scholars are more likely to attempt to publish their papers
mainly, or even exclusively, in the so-called accredited
journals, i.e. those in the major databases. There is evi-
dence that the H-index has predictive power in respect
of academic careers (Hirsch 2007) and is increasingly
being used as a performance indicator for evaluation
purposes and grant allocation (Barnes 2014). The reliability
of the system can surely be questioned, and while it cer-
tainly seems to work for the major publishing houses, the
language bias that has been reported in citation analysis
(see van Leeuwen et al. 2000; Liang et al. 2013) represents
a considerable impediment to the development of a more
inclusive global scholarship, not least within academic
geography.
Academics opposed to the use of metrics fre-
quently invoke the Einstein conundrum agiantof
the world of science who scores only low values on
the H-index methodology now so widely, and often
uncritically, applied. This emphasises the point that
the rankingof journals (and their contributing
authors) creates sometimes unintended or even perverse
consequences. Ranking of journals and researchers alike
is based on selective criteria and promotes a geographical
and language bias that strengthens the global geo-economic
and geo-political power structuresof the modern era. The
avalanche of publications that began in the latter part of
the twentieth century and which has been accompanied
by the publish or perishimperative appears to have
resulted in a system that values quantity over quality.
Indeed, the trend has led to what has been referred to
as a metrics market(Nature editorial 2014) or even a
citation game(Adams 2014).
Databases of geographical journals
The Thomson Reuters system (Web of Science) is the
oldest and most influential of the ranking instruments
and is based on the impact factor tool originally
devised by Eugene Garfield, founder of the Institute
for Scientific Information (Shanta et al. 2013). The
Sciencescategory in the Web of Science currently
lists around 400 journal entries broadly related to
geographyunder the following categories: geography
physical; geochemistry and physics; geosciences multi-
disciplinary; geology; remote sensing; biodiversity con-
servation; environmental sciences; meteorology and
atmospheric sciences; soil science; water resources;
and oceanography. On the Social Scienceslist there
are an additional 300 relevant journal entries under
Web of Science categories: geography; area studies;
demography; environmental sciences; planning and
development; urban studies; and transportation
studies. Between these two lists there is some overlap.
In response to the increasing use of bibliometrics
in academic geography as a means of assessing the
quality of authors and journals alike and recognising
that the major metrics in use employed only a partic-
ular range of journals, the IGU Executive Committee
initiated a journal project in 2008 in an attempt to
develop a more inclusive list of academic geographical
periodicals globally. The IGU database of geographical
journals now contains more than 1300 journals,
ISSN 2054-4049 doi: 10.1002/geo2.16
© 2016 The Authors. Geo: Geography and Environment published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd and the Royal Geographical Society (with the
Institute of British Geographers)
Page 2 | 2016 | Volume 3 | Issue 1 | e00016 Michael Meadows et al.
published across the world in dozens of different
languages. The intention was, and indeed remains, to
list as many geographical journals in the world as
possible and to make those journals easily accessible
to anyone wishing to access their publication details
academic scope, editorial contacts, websites etc. Online
search entries include: country and place of publication,
journal name, ISSN number, editor, key words, website
URL, among others. The list (Tables I and II)
currently contains more than 1300 geographical
journals, using a broad definition of geography
and which employs the same categories used in the
Thomson Reuters ISI system.
In reflecting on the more inclusive list for the IGUs
journals project it is obvious that the ISI databases
cover only a selection (less than half) of the possible
academic journals inventory for geography (Table III).
The question arises as to whether or not the world of
academic geographers should continue to accept the
substantial language bias imposed by a commercial
US-based English-focused corporation or is a more bal-
anced assessment of the world of geographyin journal
publications now necessary? At the very least, the
situation warrants discussion and debate. In a critical
analysis of capitalist publication practices, Paasi
(2005) sets out the need for a more representative
picture of what constitutes scholarship in geography,
although Rodríguez-Pose (2006) takes an opposing
view. The publication inequities that the IGU journals
listing highlights touch on a much wider discourse about
hegemonic scienceand has become part of postcolonial
reflectionsabout countering westerndominance
(e.g. Pollard et al. 2009).
Two particular examples are useful in illustrating the
degree of inequity inherent in the widely applied met-
rics, one from Japan and one from Germany.
1Japan. The IGU database covers 35 geographical
journals published in Japan. Six of those journals
use English only and two of these have Web of
Science recognition (both are in physical geogra-
phy). Nineteen journals use Japanese as well as
(some) English, often only for abstracts; none of
these journals appear in the Web of Science. Ten
geographical journals published in Japan use
Japanese only and, again, none of these are found
in the Web of Science list.
2Germany. The IGU list covers 27 geographical
journals published in Germany. Only two of these
use English only, one of the two is in the Web of
Science. Seven journals use both German and
English (two of these are on the Web of Science
list) and 18 other journals only use German, of
which only two are in the Web of Science. As an
aside, it is interesting to note that all 18 German-
language geography journals can be found on the
internet as open access journals, at least for their
abstracts, but usually in full text format.
The two cases are starkly indicative of a marked lan-
guage bias in academic publishing: geography journals
from two countries each with a justifiably proud and
historically well established academic tradition in the
discipline are, to all intents and purposes, ignored by
Table I Geographical representation of the IGU journals
database
Continent Country
Number of
journals
Europe (n= 463) UK 143
The
Netherlands
92
France 51
Spain 42
Germany 27
Americas (n= 398) USA 256
Canada 31
Mexico 29
Asia and Pacific
(n= 332)
China 274
Africa (n= 117) Nigeria 41
Table II Language representation in the IGU journals
database
Language Number
English 723
Chinese 240
Spanish 108
French 57
Portuguese 25
Russian 19
German 18
Japanese 10
Multi-language 81
Other 29
Total 1310
Table III Geographical and language biases in the IGU
and Web of Science databases
Continent/language
In Web
of Science
Not in Web
of Science
Americas 265 133
Europe 252 211
Asia and Pacific 20 312
Africa 28 89
Total 565 745
English 500 223
English and other 36 45
Chinese 10 230
Spanish 3 105
French 7 50
Other and unclear 9 92
Total 565 745
ISSN 2054-4049 doi: 10.1002/geo2.16
© 2016 The Authors. Geo: Geography and Environment published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd and the Royal Geographical Society (with the
Institute of British Geographers)
Page 3 | 2016 | Volume 3 | Issue 1 | e00016Academic publishing in Geography
the Web of Science when those journals are published
using their respective national languages.
The Web of Science bias is also apparent when
considering the top five journals in their categories of
physical geographyin the Science Citation Index
database (n= 46) and geographyin the Social Science
Citation Index database (n= 73, with an overlap of six
with physical geography). The top five in physical
geography journals are listed as Global Ecology and
Biogeography (6.5), Cryosphere (3.5), Journal of
Biogeography (4.5), Quaternary Science Reviews (4.6)
and Landscape Ecology (4.2). The top five in human
geography journals are Global Environmental Change:
Human and Policy Dimensions (5.1), Progress in Human
Geography (5.0) Transactions of the Institute of British
Geographers (3.6), Landscape and Urban Planning
(3.0), Economic Geography (2.7). These top-ranked
journals across the discipline are products of the major
commercial publishing houses. Five of these journals
are published in the UK [by Wiley-Blackwell in Oxford
(4) and Sage in London (1)], four in the Netherlands
[by Elsevier in Amsterdam (3) and Springer in
Dordrecht (1)], and one in Germany (by Copernicus,
Gottingen). Perhaps unsurprisingly, all 10 are published
exclusively in English.
Ranking in geographical journals
compared with other disciplines
Vandermotten (2012) has analysed citation patterns in a
large database of journals directly relating to the scope
of geography or frequently publishing articles compiled
by geographers. Most of the database in his analysis fo-
cuses on human geography and only 19% of the journals
are located in or around physical geography. Of these
787 journals, the Web of Science only contains 197 of
these journals, of which 32% are in physical geography.
Significantly more, however, can be found in Elseviers
Scopus list (606 journals, of which only 18% deal with
physical geography). Vandermotten (2012) went on to
explore the Publish or Perish database which is an open
access and, in principle, unbiased (or less obviously biased
perhaps) ranking based on Google Scholar (see www.
harzing.com/pop.htm). Table IV compares the number of
journals in geographical subfields according to the Publish
or Perish database and includes their so-called average
H-index, a measure of citation success of the articles in
these journals, an equivalent measure to the impact factor.
It is clear that, even within geography, the mean H-index
varies a great deal between subfields. For example, papers
published in journals in the fields of climatology and mete-
orology are far more likely to be cited than those found in
the broader geographical journals. In general it is clear
that there is a premium for physical geography compared
with human geography in terms of citation frequency. Of
course geographers do not work in an academic and social
vacuum. In their departments and universities there are
most favouredand least favouredspecialisations:
journal ranking is field specific (although the academic
competition forexampleforpromotionis usually
not!). Because of the relatively low overall citation success
rates for most subfields of geography, some geographers
tend to avoid the geographical journals and aim to publish
their papers in journals with higher citation indices, such
as those in physics or economics. Personal observations
suggest that the publication behaviour of the worldsmost
cited geographers indicates deployment of an increasingly
diverse range of journals rooted in a number of different
disciplines depending on subfield and, arguably, geograph-
ical journals now feature rather less strongly than in
former times. It emerges that, for geography, there is a
marked difference between citation rates in journals that
focus within the discipline and other journals in which
geographers tend to publish their work.
Language bias is apparent in the citation data. Table V
shows that there are major differences in citation successes
(H factors) between geographical journals using different
languages, with English-language journals favoured in all
three measurement systems compared (Publish or Perish,
Scopus and Web of Science).
Implications of rankings and their
manipulations
The growing dominance of rankings in academic circles
not only creates an ever more obvious bias against
non-English language journals and against journals
published outside the USAUKNetherlands core’–
amplifying the already prominent hegemony of the
richest countries and universities. Ranking additionally
influences how academics publish their scholarship. For
example, the approach discourages book-length publica-
tions, textbooks and atlases, along with many other nega-
tive consequences (Pontille and Torny 2010). Moreover,
the system strongly favours commercial international
Table IV Variation in citation success in various subfields
of geography
Mean H-index
PoP
a
n
General geographical journals 6.4 123
Area studies 10 99
Geomatics and GIS 12 41
Urban and regional studies 14.7 108
Geomorphology and Quaternary
studies
15.9 27
Economic geography and transport
geography
16.8 68
Global change, environmental studies,
glaciology
17.5 58
Climatology and meteorology 35.3 15
a
Harzing (2007).
ISSN 2054-4049 doi: 10.1002/geo2.16
© 2016 The Authors. Geo: Geography and Environment published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd and the Royal Geographical Society (with the
Institute of British Geographers)
Page 4 | 2016 | Volume 3 | Issue 1 | e00016 Michael Meadows et al.
academic publishers over non-Anglo-American geo-
graphical society publishing houses (see Table VI).
The preference for publishing in scientific journals
may induce fragmentation of research results into
smaller slices(Bertamini and Munafo 2012) which
are then spread over the higher-ranking journals of
the major commercial publishing houses, are often
more expensive and may well be difficult to access in
relatively poor university settings. There is also a trend
towards multiplication of contributing authors, who all
appear as co-authors in journal articles, sometimes
in seemingly absurd numbers; pseudo or honorary
authorship also appears to be on the increase (see Kovacs
2013). Ranking practices may undermine the integrity
and identity of geography because the most high-profile
geographers and those who are eager to develop their
academic careers more rapidly favour higher-ranked
(but usually non-geographical) journals. There has been
a tendency to forsake regional geography, since it is diffi-
cult to get such papers published in the topjournals be-
cause such a geographical focus is (mis)-interpreted as
being insufficiently global in scope. The inequities in cita-
tion success create unfair competition between more
scientificgeography (e.g. much of physical geography;
economic geography) and what are regarded as the softer
typesof geography (e.g. cultural geography). Ranking
also tends to reduce meaningful application of
publications to real social issues, since there is a lack of in-
terest for the (local) challenges concerning people and
policymakers in marginal regions. Moreover, ranking and
the dominance of particular leading journals may under-
mine innovation and alternative and critical thinking.
A more inclusive way of ranking? The
CERES/EADI approach
In the Netherlands, the national research school CERES
(Research School for Resource Studies for Development,
also including researchers and PhD candidates in global
geography) has developed a more inclusive method of
ranking, which has been adopted by the European
Association for Development Institutes (EADI). The
system focuses the social sciences, broadly defined, but
many geographical journals are therefore part of the sys-
tem and it is possible to apply to the natural sciences as
well.Tobeabletobeacceptedbythemanyresearchinsti-
tutes in the Netherlands and subsequently more widely
in Europe not only the Web of Science, but all types of
other scientific (in particular books) and non-academic
forms of publication are included, thereby creating a much
more inclusive method of measuring scientific perfor-
mance of individual researchers and their institutions.
Other academic products are also valued: PhD thesis
graduations (for supervisors), films, reports, working pa-
pers, funding proposals, etc. At the request of EADI and
the CERES Board, the ranking system and the lists of
journals and publishers are managed by the CERES secre-
tariat in Utrecht, supported by a small committee, which
also looks at complaints, suggestions for including new
journals and publishers, and other remarks. The list is up-
dated annually.
Is open access an adequate response?
Many, although not all, geographical journals interna-
tionally are now accessible via the internet, including
Table V Geographical journals in different languages: H-index variation according to three measurement systems
Mean H-
index PoP
1
n
Mean H-index
Scopus
b
%of
sample
Mean H-index Web of
Science3
%of
sample
English-language journals published in
the Netherlands
32.5 49 32.5 100 41 36
English-language journals published in
the UK
18.7 208 19.1 98 25.6 36
English-language journals published in
the USA
15.4 137 18 98 25.4 37
German journals (incl. Austria) mostly
using English
12.7 48 15.1 88 20.6 33
Chinese, Korean and Japanese
Journals
6.6 16 6.5 88 1.0 6
French journals 4.4 83 6.8 30 8.0 4
Spanish and Portuguese journals (incl.
Latin America)
4 65 2.4 38 11 3
Table VI Patterns of citation in journals published by geo-
graphical societies
Mean H-
index
PoP
%in
Scopus
%inWeb
of Science
Entire journal set 12.7 80 26
Journals of the Anglo-
American geographical
societies
15.9 100 67
Journals of other
geographical societies
6.1 63 17
ISSN 2054-4049 doi: 10.1002/geo2.16
© 2016 The Authors. Geo: Geography and Environment published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd and the Royal Geographical Society (with the
Institute of British Geographers)
Page 5 | 2016 | Volume 3 | Issue 1 | e00016Academic publishing in Geography
inter alia Fennia,Geo: Geography and the Environment,
European Journal of Geography and The Open Geogra-
phy Journal. There is certainly a growing trend which
can be seen as part of the move towards Open Science
(Leonelli et al. 2015). Indeed, an increasing number of
journals are exclusively e-publications or at least have
the option of online access. The question arises as to
whether or not academic geographers should consider
encouraging publishers to make their journals open
access by refusing to publish in journals (and books) that
are not made available in an online format? Perhaps
geographers should even go as far as boycotting all
journals or books that are unavailable via so-called gold
or greenopen access (see Rizor and Holley 2014)?
And, if indeed green open access is available, what is
the acceptable embargo period? Should geographers
demand that all their scholarly products be made
immediately available online on their personal and/or
institutional websites? Vandermottens (2012) research
sample indicates that, overall, 20% of the journals on
the list are open access journals (some really free; most
only quasi-free, i.e. providing abstracts and sometimes
first pages or other sections of publications). However,
there seems to be what has been interpreted as a Latin
reaction(Vandermotten 2012) to the dominance of
Anglo-American publishers, by making their journals
free online journals, since 60% of French journals,
64% of SpanishPortuguese journals and 78% of the
journals published in Latin America incorporate open
access facilities. Among the few Romanian journals, all
are free online already. By way of contrast, only 9% of
the North American journals in geography are free
online, 8% of the German journals, 2% of the journals
published in the Netherlands and 0.5% of the journals
published in the UK (Vandermotten 2012).
A question that many publishers (and users) ask is: does
open access have a positive influence on citation and,
therefore, on the impact factor (Gumpenberger et al.
2012)? Gunesakaran and Arunachalams (2014) analysis
suggests that for geoscience and social science journals,
subscription journals have higher impact factors than open
access but the gap is in fact quite small. In Vandermottens
(2012) sample, the average H-index of the total free online
access journals is only 4.6, but many of these journals are
only recently available in such a format, they are mostly
non-English language journals and their average H-index
is similar to the other journals from the same countries.
These journals indicate considerably more user access
than the citation statistics suggest; for example, Cybergeo,
the most widely read French full online access journal
records more than 65 000 visitors and more than 130 000
page downloads each month, albeit its H-index is only 9.
Brussels Studies, a scientific full online access journal
publishing studies on the Belgian capital city is more cited
than any other Belgian journal of interest to geographers
but it cannot be found either in Web of Science or in
Scopus. Of course open access comes at a price: who will
pay for these journals? Increasingly it becomes accept-
ablethat academics who publish in such open access
journals pay individually (even if they can sometimes claim
such fees from their institutions) for inclusion; more
academic funding agencies accept publication costsas part
of their contracts with researchers. In full open access
circles there is also some debate now to develop alternative
quality assessment procedures and there are reported prob-
lems with the rather informal system that currently prevails
(van Noorden 2014). In reality we are only at the beginning
of new ways of publishing and assessing scientific work
which may ultimately include collective writing and
assessing online, possibly even via the social network
platforms. This will make Wikipedia-stylecontributions
to scientific debates more conventional and could indeed
stimulate sciencepolicy or sciencepractitioner interfaces.
Brembs et al. (2013) go as far as to argue that journals
should be abandoned altogether in favour of a collabora-
tive, library-based system of scholarly communication.
Conclusions: how can IGU contribute to
the debate?
During the debates at the IGU conferences in Cologne,
Kyoto and Krakow, delegates suggested that IGU as a
global organisation of geographers should actively
confront issues relating to scholarly publications in the
discipline. Would it be possible to build an alternative
quality assessment procedure acknowledged by the
geographical community? Under the auspices of the
IGU and its various conference and social media plat-
forms, publication metrics and the higher education
structures that deploy them in funding research and
hiring and promoting academics are being debated
and critiqued. The IGU has already endorsed the objec-
tives of the so-called San Francisco Declaration on
Research Assessment(see http://am.ascb.org/dora/) that
calls for the elimination of the use of narrow journal-
based metrics in funding and appointment consider-
ations and to assess research on its own merits rather
than on the basis of the ranking of the journals in which
research outcomes are published; and also, to capitalise
on the opportunities provided by online publication. This
commentary has illustrated the existence of a strong lan-
guage bias in academic journals in geography that needs
to be highlighted and debated lest the hegemony of the
commercial publishing houses continue to favour the
privileged at the expense of a more inclusive intellectual
landscape in geography. Some journals have recognised
the issue and have developed some innovative innovations
to try and counter it. For example, Conservation Biology has
instigated double-blind reviewing, waiving of page charges
when authors are unable to obtain institutional support to
pay them, assisting authors with grammar and structure,
ISSN 2054-4049 doi: 10.1002/geo2.16
© 2016 The Authors. Geo: Geography and Environment published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd and the Royal Geographical Society (with the
Institute of British Geographers)
Page 6 | 2016 | Volume 3 | Issue 1 | e00016 Michael Meadows et al.
and facilitating the publication of online versions of
accepted articles in languages other than English
(Burgman et al. 2015). The IGU can certainly lobby editors
of geographical journals to adopt similar practices.
Burgman et al. (2015) also describe how their journal has
adopted a partner programme whereby experienced scien-
tists may be paired up with authors who request additional
editorial or scientific input. This latter mechanism is
perhaps especially relevant to the IGU, for it has an
existing international network infrastructure through its
commissions and task forcesthat could well be harnessed
to offer a similar service.
Notes
1. At the outset, the University of AmsterdamsDepartmentof
Geography, Planning and International Development Stud-
ies adopted this project and established the initial database
of journals. Cecilia Blaustein, Qiu Li and Jaap Rothuizen
conducted the preliminary work in establishing the project.
IGU National Committee and Commission chairs added
information and corrected mistakes under the guidance of
the IGU Executive Committee. In 2012, IGU Secretary
General Mike Meadows and his University of Cape Town
team took over responsibility for the project, cleaned up
the data and made the results available via the IGU website
(www.igu-online.org). The database is updated regularly.
2. Both indices as they existed in mid-2015.
3. Details can be found at http://ceres.fss.uu.nl under Rating
Lists.
4. A Dutch example with notable success may be found at
www.thebrokeronline.eu
References
Adams J 2014 The citation game in A review of Cronin B
and Sugimoto C R eds Beyond bibliometrics: harnessing
multidimentional indicators of scholarly impact MIT
Press 2014 Nature 510 4701.
Bertamini M and Munafo M R 2012 Bite-size science and its un-
desired side effects Perspectives in Psychological Science 76771.
Brembs B, Button K and Munafo M 2013 Deep impact: un-
intended consequences of journal rank Frontiers in Human
Neuroscience 7112.
Burgman M, Jarrad Fand Lain E 2015 Editorial: decreasing
geographic bias in Conservation Biology Conservation Biology
29 12556.
Gumpenberger C, Ovalle-Perandones M A and Gorriaz J
2012 On the impact of Gold Open Access Journals
Scientometrics. DOI:10.1007/s11192-01200902-7.
Gunesakaran S and Arunachalam S 2014 The impact fac-
tors of open access and subscription journals across fields
Current Science 107 3808.
Harzing A W 2007 Publish or perish (www.harzing.com/pop.
htm) Accessed 30 December 2015
Hirsch J E 2005 An index to quantify an individualsscien-
tific research output Proceedings of the National Academy
of Sciences of the United States of America 102 1656972.
Hirsch J E 2007 Does the h-index have predictive power?
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United
States of America 104 191938.
Kitchin R 2005 Disrupting and destabilizing Anglo-American
and English language hegemony in geography Social and
Cultural Geography 6117.
Kovacs J 2013 Honorary authorship epidemic in scholarly
publications? How the current use of citation-based evalua-
tive metrics make (pseudo)honorary authors from honest
contributors of every multi-author article Journal of Medical
Ethics 39 50912.
Leonelli S, Spichtinger D and Prainsack B 2015 Sticks and
carrots: encouraging open science at its source Geo: Geogra-
phy and Environment 21216.
Liang L, Rousseau R and Zhong Z 2013 Non-English
journals and papers in physics and chemistry: bias in cita-
tions? Scientometrics 95 33350.
Meijaard E, Cardillo M, Meijaard E M and Possingham H P
2015 Geographic bias in citationrates of conservation research
Conservation Biology 29 9205.
Nature editorial 2014 Metrics market: measures of research
impact are improving, but universities should be wary of
their limits Nature 510 444.
Paasi A 2005 Globalisation, academic capitalism, and the un-
even geographies of international journal publishing spaces
Environment and Planning A 37 76989.
Pollard J S, McEwan C, Laurie N and Stenning A 2009
Economic geography under postcolonial scrutiny Tr a n s a c -
tions of the Institute of British Geographers 34 13742.
Pontille D and Torny D 2010 The controversial policies of
journal ratings: evaluating social sciences and humanities
Research Evaluation 19 34760.
Rizor S L and Holley R P 2014 Open Access goals revisited: how
gold and green open access are meeting (or not) their original
goals Journal of Scholarly Publishing 41 32135.
Rodríguez-Pose A 2006 Is there an Anglo-Americandomina-
tion in human geography? And, is it bad? Environment and
Planning A 38 60310.
Shanta A, Pradhan A S and Sharma S D 2013 Impact factor
of a scientific journal: is it a measure of quality of research?
Journal of Medical Physics 38 1557.
Short J R, Bonich A, Kim Y and Li Li P 2001 Cultural glob-
alisation, global English and geography journals The
Professional Geographer 53 111.
Sun Y, Pan Y, Tang M and Wu Y 2013 Retrospect and pros-
pect of geographical sciences in China Journal of Geographi-
cal Sciences 23 96377.
Vandermotten C 2012 Cotation des revues de géographie,
impérialisme scientifique anglosaxon et culture de lexcellence
marchandisée Belgeo 12216 (http://belgeo.revues.org/7131)
Accessed 30 December 2015
Van Dijk D, Manor O and Carey L B 2014 Publication met-
rics and success on the academic job market Current Biology
24 R51617.
Van Leeuwen T N, Moed H F, Tijssen R J W, Visser M S
and van Raan A F J 2000 First evidence of serious
language-bias in the use of citation analysis for the
evaluation of national science systems Research Evaluation
8 1556.
Van Noorden R 2014 Open access website gets tough Nature
542 17.
ISSN 2054-4049 doi: 10.1002/geo2.16
© 2016 The Authors. Geo: Geography and Environment published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd and the Royal Geographical Society (with the
Institute of British Geographers)
Page 7 | 2016 | Volume 3 | Issue 1 | e00016Academic publishing in Geography
... The inequity in academic publishing in geography because of the increasing use of metrics as a measure of research quality is highlighted in "A perspective on problems and prospects for academic publishing in Geography". The author examines patterns in the ranking of geographical journals in major global databases and compares them with the database of the International Geographical Union to find the shortcomings: inter alias, linguistic bias, the lack of representation of books and chapters in books, the geographical unevenness of accredited journals, problems of multi-authorship, the mismatch between ranking and social usefulness and alternative or critical thinking,… and the hegemony of the global commercial publishing houses (Meadows, Dietz, and Vandermotten 2016). The article "Geographical education: outcomes, trends and challenges about geography didactics" provides relevant elements for the renewal process of teaching geography as well as presents work and progress in research on teaching geography: meetings of researchers, book production, systematization of educational experiences, higher education programs, development of meetings and events. ...
Article
Geographical education is a term that is not commonly used in research on Educational Science in Vietnam. Instead, researchers often refer to concepts such as Geography teaching or Geography lecturing. Geographical education is defined as the amalgam of two academic fields: Geography and Education (Gerber, 1996). Studies of geographical education published in journals over the past 10 years reflect the development of this field in my country. The objective of this study is to give an outline of research on geographical education in Vietnam between 2010 and 2019. The search for research articles uses Grounded Theory and is carried out in three phases. This research has contributed to the establishment of the geographical education definition in order to form a conceptual framework for the studies on the same field in Vietnam. More importantly, it generalizes prominent trends in the research on geographical education during the 10-year period as a basis for research strategy planning for the following phases. These results play an important role in improving education strategy in Vietnam from 2018.
... Rather than assess the raw number of editorial board members, the percentage of country representation of the total was calculated. Meadows et al. (2016) note a language (and by implication geographic) bias of Geography journals listed on the WoS database, but the spatial distribution of Geography journals examined here represents all regions apart from the Middle East and Central America, while several journals are thematic and transcend regional boundaries. It is also pertinent to note that the quality of the data on editorial member affiliations is limited by the accuracy of the information on editorial boards available on journal websites. ...
Article
One manifestation of the glaring lack of equality, diversity and inclusion in higher education relates to the underrepresentation of certain individuals and/or regions in the scholarly publication process. Here, we analyse the affiliations of editorial board members in 126 Geography journals. Specifically, we examine editorial board membership by region and determine the extent to which the regional representation of editorial board members is associated with journal impact factor as a measure of journal reach and quality. Of the 5202 editorial board members examined, almost 80% are located in Mainland Europe, North America and the British Isles while roughly five percent are located in Central America, South America, the Middle East and Africa combined. Moreover, editorial board members located in these four regions from the Global South are most often editorial board members of journals in the lowest quartile (by impact factor). These findings highlight the outdated and exclusionary practices that pervade the scholarly publication process in science in general, and Geography specifically.
... An important omission from much of the research on this subject is the differentiation between country of residence and country of origin, and those living outside their countries of birth. While we are unable to assess this, theory and anecdotal evidence would suggest that the hegemony of Anglophone institutions reflects not 9 journals(Meadows et al., 2016). ForGarcia-Ramon (2003: 1), the growing domination of English as the global language "privileges the geographical discourse of the Anglophone world". ...
Article
Full-text available
How academic disciplines are represented and reproduced is a charged issue. In geography in particular, the challenge is not only who counts, especially with regard to gender and other factors, but also how the boundaries of the discipline are drawn and which subfields are acknowledged. This article contributes to both aspects of the discussion by extending recent research on gender, internationalization, and academic gatekeeping to additional subfields of human geography. In particular, we focus on the demographic structure and international diversity of the editorial teams of flagship quantitative geography journals. We find that women are underrepresented in our sample, with shares ranging from 23.1 to 43.5 percent—numbers unfortunately comparable to many other geography journals. We also find that career stage is an important factor and that our sample is more international and less Anglophone than the disciplinary norm. We conclude by emphasizing the importance of attending to issues of inclusive gatekeeping in geography and elsewhere.
... The inclusion of journals is not static, and it does include non-traditional journals in its search index, such as the African Journal of Agricultural Research, published by Academic Journals (discussed in more detail below; a publisher that remains on Beall's List of so-called 'predatory' journals and publishers, who are accused of pay-to-publish practices). 2 According to the Web of Science, as a result of its inclusion and exclusion criteria, the platform indexes the strongest research, and thus is an important tool for researchers seeking to identify rigorous, peer-reviewed publications. These means of determining quality can be problematic (Collyer, 2018;Meadows, Dietz and Vandermotten, 2016). The indexed journals tend to be those owned by major corporations who sell access to academic research, and rarely are journals owned by an institution in the Global South. ...
Article
Full-text available
Decision makers require a strong research foundation in order to make evidence- based decisions. In Ethiopia, there is an apparent contradiction regarding the availability of research and evidence. Google Scholar suggests there is a vast amount of research on food security in Ethiopia, while the Web of Science finds a small fraction in comparison. We analyzed these two research search platforms by comparing and contrasting the search results for the period of 2005 to 2016. The results are also analyzed in terms of knowledge production trends and knowledge accessibility. The findings present an analysis of the publishers, citations, the types of documents included in the search results, institutions of authors, and the role of false positives in the results. Of note, the citation analysis suggested that there are distinct circles of knowledge exchange and publication, principally revolving around the accessibility of research. In addition to outlining the landscape food security research in Ethiopia, this study has implications for systematic reviews, specifying the strengths and limitations of the respective databases as well as highlights areas for future inquiry, such as barriers to publication and the categorization of journals.
Chapter
British universities have benefited considerably from the internationalisation agenda and the contribution of international students to academic life. Overseas—mostly non-EU—applicants account for a third of postgraduate enrolments (over 40% among those pursuing a research degree). Students with a non-English language background are known to struggle with the subtleties of formal academic writing but very little is known about the availability of alternative language arrangements. The present study offers a critical overview of requirements for submissions in languages other than English. The results indicate that the option is available in around a quarter of universities, subject to approval and several pre-conditions. The implications of such policies for academic literacy development are assessed in the light of recent research on multilingualism in higher education.
Chapter
Full-text available
The emergence and affirmation of Geography in Portugal was influenced by Latin-rooted cultures and languages, with a particular emphasis on the French tradition, with secondary school education assuming a central role in the recognition of the discipline. After a relevant transition in the 1970s, Human Geography became much more influenced by Anglo-Saxon authors and since the 1990s by a thematic specialization and a connection to spatial planning. This specialization goes hand in hand with the development of research in the various domains of Geography, which, in the twenty-first century, is clearly associated with increasing competition for funding and productivity measured by the number of papers in international high-impact-factor journals. This text addresses the presence of graduate and postgraduate Geography at universities. It then analyses recent research developments (based on PhD titles and articles published in the two main Portuguese scientific journals), confirming the specialization and fragmentation of topics as well as an increasing internationalization in which Brazil plays a key role. It also underlines the relevance of the work that is being done by geographers’ associations, as well as in other spaces where Portuguese geographers are stimulating change on policies and planning. Finally, some remarks are presented regarding present and future challenges, considering the social responsibility of geographers in an ever-increasingly complex world. In this respect, the Mediterranean region is a cultural space with a strong potential for cooperation, able to promote an innovative Geography based on Mediterranean lenses, and is the object of some final words.
Article
Building on calls for “slow scholarship,” we highlight the importance of time and care in producing rigorous, ethical scholarship through advising practices. We describe how feminist ethics and epistemologies shape each of our research clusters: a hydro‐feminist lab at University X and a feminist geography collective at University Y. We show a couple of ways that feminist geographers can adopt the “lab model” and use it to build meaningful mentoring networks, fostered through time and care, in a way that both meets and transgresses the demands of academic neoliberalism. We then show how this approach extends into our fieldwork, recounting instances from our research where the importance of mentoring over time and through a caring ethic surface. Unfolding over weeks, months, and years we show the value of time and care in the mentoring process both in deepening the quality of advising relationships and in creating a relationship of trust and support. We contend this better prepares students for the intellectual and emotional challenges of feminist research and in turn strengthens that research. In the face of neoliberalism's quickening drives, we highlight the benefits and the contradictions of this kind of slow and caring “lab‐field” feminist mentoring for geographic research. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Article
The year 2018 marks Area's 50th anniversary. The past 50 years have witnessed profound shifts in the nature of higher education, in research practices and priorities, and in academic publishing. In this Editorial, we look both to the journal's past and to its future. Firstly, we examine some significant publishing trends in Area between 1998−2018. Secondly, we use these data – and the occasion of the journal's 50th anniversary – to map out possible future priorities for the journal and, indeed, for geography as a discipline. Looking forward, our vision is for a renewed focus on multiple forms of collaboration, co‐production and the building of alliances as we seek to retain and sharpen our commitment to publishing cutting‐edge geographical research, and to hosting lively, provocative and generative debates about geography as a discipline.
Article
Full-text available
This paper considers the perceived hegemonic status of Anglo-American geography and the role of the English-language as the lingua franca of academia. The first half of the paper outlines in brief the hegemonic status of Anglo-American geography, the structures and practices of the global knowledge economy and Anglo-American geography itself that help sustain and reproduce its hegemony, and the disciplining effects of this hegemonic status on Geography practised elsewhere. The second half, examines how Anglo-American norms and the hegemonic status of English as a global lingua franca are being, and might be further, challenged, resisted, subverted and re-shaped through discursive and practical interventions aimed at disrupting and destabilising them. By focusing on how the history of the discipline is constructed, and the protocols of publishing and organising conferences, how Geography can be transformed to open it up to a plurality of (non-Anglo-American) voices, different ways of «doing» geography and alternative ways of valuing forms of geographical enterprise, are considered.
Article
Full-text available
The open science (OS) movement has been seen as an important facilitator for public participation in science. This has been underpinned by the assumption that widespread and free access to research outputs leads to (1) better and more efficient science, (2) economic growth, in particular for small and medium-sized enterprises wishing to capitalise on research findings, and (3) increased transparency of knowledge production and its outcomes. The latter in particular could function as a catalyst for public participation and engagement. Whether OS is likely to help realise these benefits, however, will depend on the emergence of systemic incentives for scientists to utilise OS in a meaningful manner. While in some areas, the environmental sciences have a long tradition of open ethos, citizen inclusion and global collaborations, such activities need to be more systematically supported and promoted by funders and learned societies in order to improve scientific research and public participation.
Article
Full-text available
Yet more than for other sciences, due to researches coupling local and global, geography suffers from the domination of the “international” Anglo-Saxon literature controlled by the big publishers. On the basis of the collection of 787 geographical journals and the analysis of their rankings, a bias appears to be evident in favour of the journals published in English by the big commercial publishers, not related to the specific quality of the papers. Moreover, another bias is obvious in favour of the specialised topical journals, very often not specifically geographical ones, at the expense of the general geographical and area studies journals. The development of open access journals seems to be an answer of some Latin countries (France, Spain, Brazil, Romania) to this imperialistic challenge. This paper is fully on line with the endeavours of the International Geographical Union (IGU) for promoting a fair, balanced and diversified dissemination of the world geographical research.
Article
We have compared the 2-year and 5-year impact factors (IFs), normalized impact factors (NIFs) and rank normalized impact factors (RNIFs) of open access (OA) and subscription journals across the 22 major fields delineated in Essential Science Indicators. Journal Citation Reports (JCR) 2012 has assigned 2-year IF to 1,073 OA and 7,290 subscription journals and 5-year IF to 811 OA and 6,705 subscription journals. Overall 12.8% of journals listed in JCR are OA, but a higher percentage of journals are OA in 9 fields, including multidisciplinary (31%), agriculture (19.1%) and microbiology (19.1). Overall 2-year IF is higher than 5-year IF in about 31.5% journals in both OA and subscription journals. But among physics journals, two-thirds of OA journals and 58% of subscription journals have a higher 2-year IF. For multidisciplinary journals the mean RNIF is higher for OA journals than subscription journals. Higher proportion of subscription journals had mean RNIF above 0.5: 361 of 1,073 OA journals (33.6%) and 3,857 of 7,280 subscription journals (52.9%) had a 2-year mean RNIF above 0.5 and 277 of 811 OA journals (34.2%) and 3,453 of 6705 (51.5%) subscription journals had a 5-year mean RINF above 0.5. Moving to OA has proven to be advantageous to developing country journals; it has helped a large number of Latin American and many Indian journals improve their IF.
Article
We investigated whether the impact of conservation science is greater for research conducted in countries with more pressing conservation problems. We quantified research impact for 231 countries based on 2 citation metrics (mean cites per paper and h index) and fitted models predicting research impact based on number of threatened bird and mammal species (as a measure of conservation importance of a country) and a range of demographic variables. Citation rates of conservation research increased as a country's conservation need increased and as human population, quality of governance, and wealth increased. Even after accounting for these factors, citation rates among regions and countries within regions varied significantly. The conservation research community needs to consider ways to begin addressing the entrenched disadvantages some countries have when it comes to initiating projects and producing high-quality research.
Article
The authors ask how far the open access movement has come in meeting its initial goal of making scholarly research freely available to all potential users immediately upon publication through open digital repositories (green OA) or open access journals (gold OA). In 2002, the Budapest Open Access Initiative named the movement and examined the new opportunities that technology made possible. In 2012, the same group declared partial success: ‘We’re solidly in the middle.’ The main challenge has been economic sustainability. The authors argue that gold OA has fared better and has more potential for economic stability than green OA. As commercial publishers have found ways to live with and even profit from open access, the movement has not yet achieved its goal of reducing costs for libraries. The future remains uncertain for OA as the means to meeting its goals need more critical evaluation and revision.
Article
The number of applicants vastly outnumbers the available academic faculty positions. What makes a successful academic job market candidate is the subject of much current discussion [1-4]. Yet, so far there has been no quantitative analysis of who becomes a principal investigator (PI). We here use a machine-learning approach to predict who becomes a PI, based on data from over 25,000 scientists in PubMed. We show that success in academia is predictable. It depends on the number of publications, the impact factor (IF) of the journals in which those papers are published, and the number of papers that receive more citations than average for the journal in which they were published (citations/IF). However, both the scientist's gender and the rank of their university are also of importance, suggesting that non-publication features play a statistically significant role in the academic hiring process. Our model (www.pipredictor.com) allows anyone to calculate their likelihood of becoming a PI.