Is _Environmental History_ in Decline?

16 08 2011

The American Historical Review was the most cited journal in history in 2010, garnering one in every eight citations to a history journal in 2010, according to a Journal Citation Reports analysis of references to 1,000 articles from 43 history journals. Read more here.

Does anybody know why the impact factor for the journal Environmental History peaked in 2006? Environmental history is one the hottest fields in history, so I would be curious to know why citations of articles in that journal have fallen so dramatically since 2006. Have other journals in the field of environmental history appeared? Or is there less interest in environmental history? I’m not an expert on this field, although I am a sympathetic observer, so I would be interested to know what the heck is going on.

Background: Copublished by the American Society for Environmental History and the Forest History Society in association with Oxford University Press, Environmental History is the successor publication to the journals of the two organizations, Environmental History Review and Forest & Conservation History. Environmental History Review was published from 1976 to 1989 as Environmental Review. Forest & Conservation History was published from 1957 to 1958 as the Forest History Newsletter, from 1959 to 1974 as Forest History, and from 1975 to 1989 as the Journal of Forest History.



5 responses

16 08 2011

My guess is they closed open access a few years ago. There was no paywall before they signed with Oxford. I don’t know how to explain the huge spike in 2006.

16 08 2011

Aha! The tragedy of the anti-commons strikes again.

16 08 2011
Lauren Wheeler

Did the American Historical Review start publishing more environmental history (and making it more accessible) after 2006? The dip there corresponds with the spike for EH, as does the recovery for AHR and the decline for EH.

17 08 2011
David Zylberberg

When I looked at that chart, it seems like EH had a similar citation record for all years except 2006. 2005 looks remarkably like 2007 and the trend would not be notable except for that major blip. I expect Jim is correct that the paywall prevented steady growth in the citation rating, but the blip still looks interesting. My best guess is that some circumstances led to particularly good and/or controversial articles being published in 2006, so they got cited a lot. A quick look through the Table of Contents makes them sound more interesting than most journals published in 2011, but I wonder if anyone else knows which articles got all the citations.

17 08 2011
Tina Loo

You might be interested to know that _Environmental History_ is #2 in impact factor according to Times Higher Education, which did a study of history journals from 2000 to 2010. So the question might not be one of decline, but why impact factor spiked in 2006. #2 in impact is pretty impressive for a small journal.


Cheers, Tina Loo (who is on the executive committee of the American Society for Enviro History – just so you know where this comment comes from!)

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