Wikipedia:Notability (academic journals)
|This essay contains comments and advice of one or more Wikipedia contributors on the topic of notability. Essays may represent widespread norms or minority viewpoints. Consider these views with discretion. Essays are not Wikipedia policies or guidelines.|
|This page in a nutshell:
This guideline is meant to reflect consensus about the notability of journals as measured by their academic impact. For the purposes of this guideline, a journal is a periodical publication devoted to reporting the results of scholarly research or higher education, and journal notability refers to being known for such engagement.
This guideline is independent from the other subject-specific notability guidelines, such as WP:BIO, Wikipedia:Notability (media), etc.: It is possible for a journal not to be notable under the provisions of this guideline but still to be notable in some other way, under one of the other subject-specific notability guidelines. Conversely, if a journal is notable under this guideline, its possible failure to meet other subject-specific notability guidelines is irrelevant.
Journals found to be notable under this guideline are likely to be reliable sources, but are not necessarily so.
If a journal meets any one of the following conditions, as substantiated through independent reliable sources, it probably qualifies for a stand-alone article. If a journal meets none of these conditions, it may still qualify for a stand-alone article, if it meets the conditions of WP:Notability or other notability criteria. The merits of an article on the journal will depend largely on the extent to which the material is verifiable through third-party sources. See the Notes and Examples section below before applying this guideline.
- The journal is considered by reliable sources to be influential in its subject area.
- The journal is frequently cited by other reliable sources.
- The journal has an historic purpose or a significant history.
It is possible for a journal to probably qualify for a stand-alone article according to this standard and yet not actually be an appropriate topic for coverage in Wikipedia because of a lack of reliable, independent sources on the subject. Independent, third-party sources must exist for every topic that receives its own article on Wikipedia, without exception (see Wikipedia:Verifiability: "If no reliable third-party sources can be found on a topic, Wikipedia should not have an article on it.").
For the routine, uncontroversial details of a journal, official institutional and professional sources are accepted.
Notes and examples
Examples and practical tips for applications of this guideline follow.
- The most typical way of satisfying Criterion 1 is to show that the journal is included in the major indexing services in its field. Examples of such services are Science Citation Index, Social Sciences Citation Index, and Scopus. A few simple mentions in passing that "Journal of Foo is an important journal" should not be taken as evidence that Criterion 1 is satisfied.
- For the purpose of Criterion 1, having an impact factor assigned by the Institute for Scientific Information's Journal Citation Reports always qualifies under Criterion 1.
- Citation indices: The only reasonably accurate way of finding citations to journal articles in most subjects is to use one of the two major citation indices, Web of Knowledge and Scopus. They are, unfortunately, very expensive: Scopus will be found mostly in university and large college libraries, and Web of Knowledge in major universities. Scopus covers the sciences and the social sciences, but is very incomplete before 1996; Web of Knowledge may cover the sciences back to 1900, the social sciences back to 1956, and the humanities back to 1975, but only the largest universities can afford the entire set. (Fortunately, additional citation indexes with public access are being developed.) These databases are furthermore incomplete especially for the less developed countries. Additionally, they list citations only from journal articles—citations from articles published in books or other publications such as conference proceedings are not included. For that reason, these databases are only of limited use for disciplines such as computer science in which conference or other non-journal publication is very frequent. In individual scientific fields, MathSciNet, Chemical Abstracts, and similar disciplinary indexes are also valuable resources, often specifically listing citation counts, but access to them is also not free and usually requires a university computer account.
- Google Scholar should not be used as an indication of notability. Google Scholar is reasonably inclusive for fields where all (or nearly all) respected venues have an online presence. Most papers in computer science will show up, but less technologically related fields or non-scientific subjects are less well represented. Even the journal Science puts articles online only back to 1996. Many journals, additionally, do not permit Google Scholar to list their articles. In the other direction, Google Scholar includes many sources that are not peer-reviewed, such as conference preprints, technical reports, and academic web sites. Thus, the presence or absence of references in Google Scholar should not be used to determine notability. At best, it is a starting point.
- A caution about PubMed: MEDLINE, now usually accessed as part of PubMed, is a well-established broadly based search engine, covering much of biology and all of medicine, published since 1967 and sometimes even earlier. It includes a few journals in medically related clinical subjects, but is not complete in those. Further, not all articles in PubMed are from peer-reviewed journals, as it includes medical news sources of various degrees of quality, including such items in peer-reviewed journals it does cover. Coverage in PubMed alone is therefore not enough to fulfil the requirements of Criterion 1. The same applies to MathSciNet.
- For journals in humanities, the existing citation indices and GoogleScholar often provide inadequate and incomplete information. In these cases, one can also look at how frequently the journal is held in various academic libraries (this information is available in Worldcat. Other sources can be found on the book sources page, at the Karlsruhe Virtual Catalog, or at the Zeitschriftendatenbank) when evaluating whether Criterion 1 is satisfied. Data on library holdings need to be interpreted in the light of what can be expected for the specific subject.
- Journal size is not a consideration here. Simply having published a large number of academic works is not considered sufficient to satisfy Criterion 1. The reverse is also true, a journal publishing only few articles is not necessarily disqualified by this.
- Criterion 2 may be satisfied, for example, if the journal is frequently quoted in conventional media as an expert source in a particular area. A small number of quotations, especially in local news media, is not unexpected for academic journals and so falls short of this mark.
- Journals dedicated to promoting pseudo-science and marginal or fringe theories are generally not covered by this guideline, unless they are included in the databases mentioned under the first point above; they may still be notable under the general Wikipedia:Notability or Wikipedia:Fringe theories guidelines. The same applies to popular journals.
- Criterion 3 may be satisfied for defunct as well as extant journals. Journals that have been the focus of historical analysis can be covered under this criterion. An example of a journal that would qualify by criterion 3 alone would be Social Text, for the historical role it played in the Sokal affair.
- It should be noted that journals that pass Criterion 3 will almost always also pass the general notability guideline.
Some caveats to this guideline follow.
- Note that as this is a guideline and not a rule; exceptions may well exist. Some journals may not meet any of these criteria, but may still be notable for the work they have published. It is important to note that it is very difficult to make clear requirements in terms of quality of publications: The criteria, in practice, vary greatly by field. Also, this proposal sets the bar fairly low, which is natural: To a degree, journals are the sources upon which much of Wikipedia's contents are built. It is natural that successful ones should be considered notable.
- It is possible for a journal to be notable according to this standard and yet not be an appropriate topic for an article in Wikipedia because of a lack of reliable, independent sources on the subject. Every topic on Wikipedia must be one for which sources exist (see Wikipedia:Verifiability); however, most journals nowadays have home pages which may be used as sources for uncontroversial information. Often, this will be sufficient to create a stub on a particular journal, even in the absence of other sources.
- Some journals consist of different, composite sections without distinctive titles. Although such sections may be listed individually in some databases, it can be preferable to cover them together in one single article (for example, Nuclear Physics A & B). On the other hand, some such sections become very prominent in their own way, and, if they have a (semi-)distinctive title, they can be covered in a separate article (for example, the Journal of Physics series).