McKinnon, Alan C.

Starry-eyed II: the logistics journal ranking debate revisited

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 47 (6): 446-431, (2017).

Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1108/IJPDLM-02-2017-0097

Abstract: Purpose In a previous paper (McKinnon, 2013), the author questioned the principle and practice of journal ranking and discussed its effects on logistics research. Since then several important developments have occurred prompting a fresh review of the issues. The paper summarises the results of this review with the aim of stimulating further discussion on the subject. Design/methodology/approach New literature on the journal ranking debate has been reviewed. The validity of the journal ranking as a proxy measure of paper quality is explored using data from the UK Research Excellence Framework (REF) assessment. Changes to the ranking of ten logistics/supply chain management (SCM) journals in four listings are analysed, and possible reasons for the relatively low status of the journals are examined. Findings The influence of journal rankings on the academic research process is strengthening while the debate about their legitimacy has intensified. UK REF data cast doubt on the reliability of the journal ranking as an indicator of a paper’s merit. Logistics/SCM journals continue to occupy mid-to-lower tier positions in most listings, though there has been some improvement in their standing. Research limitations/implications The paper aims to alert those managing and undertaking logistics research to the dangers of overreliance on journal rankings in the measurement of research quality and productivity. Practical implications The paper may help logistics/SCM scholars to defend the position of their discipline and resist journal-ranking-induced pressures to marginalise it and devalue its outputs. Social implications In this paper, academic recruitment, promotion and motivation are considered. Originality/value The paper sheds new light on the relationship between journal ranking and individual paper quality, on recent changes in the rating of logistics/SCM journals and on the wider debate about the use of bibliometrics in assessing research quality.

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