Ranking disciplinary social work journals: Comparing faculty perceptions with two citation-based approaches

David R. Hodge, Mansoo Yu, Anna Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Publishing in highly ranked disciplinary journals plays a critical role in career advancement. Yet, the process through which journals are classified as top-tier is largely unexamined in the social work literature. To better understand the utility of various methods for determining journal quality, we compare three basic approaches to ranking disciplinary journals: reputation, h-index values, and impact factors (IFs). More specifically, we compare faculty perceptions of social work journals in 2019 with faculty perceptions in 2000, Google Scholar h-index rankings from 2010, and Clarivate Analytics’ IFs from 2008 and 2017. Method: To create a current, reputation-based ranking of disciplinarily periodicals, a national sample of tenure-track faculty (N 5 307) evaluated the overall quality and prestige of social work periodicals (N 5 64). We obtained prior faculty perceptions of quality and prestige from Sellers et al. (2004), h-index values from Hodge and Lacasse (2011), and 2008 and 2017 IFs from Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science portal. Results: Faculty perceptions of quality exhibited a relatively strong correlation with faculty perceptions in 2000 (rs 5 .76), suggesting that faculty perceptions regarding journal quality are relatively stable across decades. Among the citation-based approaches, the 2010 Google Scholar h-index values exhibited the strongest correlation with current faculty perceptions (rs 5 .81), and the 2017 IFs had the lowest correlation (rs 5 .48). Conclusions: The results provide some guidance to disciplinary stakeholders making assessments about top-tier journals. For instance, the relative stability of faculty perceptions enables scholars to have some confidence that journals that are currently perceived as top-tier will remain so in the future. Results also raise questions about the utility of relying upon IFs in assessments of journal quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of the Society for Social Work and Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Faculty perceptions
  • H-index
  • Impact factors
  • Journal ranking
  • Social work journals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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