Publication in quality journals has become a major indicator of research performance in UK universities. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the notion of “quality journal”.
The paper examines the situation in management studies and finds dizzying circularity in the definitions of “quality journal”.
The paper finds that what a quality journal is does not really matter: agreement that there are such things matters very much indeed. As so often happens with indicators of performance, the indicator has become the target. So, the challenge is to publish in quality journals, and the challenge rewards gamesmanship. Vested interests have become particularly skilful at the game, and at exercising the winners’ prerogative of changing the rules. All but forgotten in the desperation to win the game is publication as a means of communicating research findings for the public benefit. The paper examines the situation in management studies, but the problem is much more widespread.
This original and topical paper concludes that laughter is both the appropriate reaction to such farce, and also, perhaps, the stimulus to reform.
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