History Journals With Impact

22 08 2011

Earlier this year the Times HES published a list ranking history journals by impact factor. The list was based on Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Reports.

Here are the top 10 journals on their list, ranked by 5-year impact factor. The chart I posted a few days ago shows the impact factor in any given year, which can clearly lead to some wild swings. (There are, obviously, advantages to using a five-year moving average).

American Historical Review 2.188
Environmental History 1.085
Journal of American History 1.047
Social Science History 0.796
Journal of Modern History 0.67
Journal of African History 0.644
Journal of British Studies 0.636
Comparative Studies in Society and History 0.515
History Workshop Journal 0.5
Journal of Contemporary History 0.478

Tina Loo shared this link with me in a comment on a post in which I spoke about the recent decline in the number of citations to articles in the journal Environmental History. The chart I posted at the time shows that the impact factor of that journal peaked in 2006, right before it moved behind a paywall.

It is striking that Environmental History is near the very top of the list. I wonder to what extent articles in this journal are being cited by historians as opposed to people in the other disciplines that intersect with environmental history.  Most articles in a more traditional history journals are read and cited mainly by other historians, or maybe by the odd political scientist.  In contrast, the articles in EH are likely to interest people in a wider range of disciplines. The reason I say this is that at least some librarians operate on the assumption that most of the users of the journal Environmental History will tend to be in geography, ecology, disaster management, and other departments. They obviously know something about who reads this journal.

Although I’m certainly no expert in the sub-discipline of environmental history, although I’ve become familiar with the journal Environmental History in the last few months, as I have planned out the reading list for a history of globalisation course.
My other observation is that the Journal of Global History (founded in 2006) isn’t on this list.   In 2010, the JGH had an impact factor of 0.625 and was ranked by Thomson Reuters as the fourth most cited history journal in the world. I strongly suspect that in a few years, the JGH‘s five-year impact factor will also be impressive. Interestingly enough, some of the most cited and most downloaded articles in the JGH archive are papers dealing with environmental-historical topics.e.g., McCook, Stuart. 2006. “Global Rust Belt: Hemileia Vastatrix and the Ecological Integration of World Coffee Production Since 1850”. Journal of Global History. 1, no. 2: 177-195.

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2 responses

22 08 2011
David Zylberberg

Is there a reason that the Economic History Review did not make this list? I am under the impression that it has an impact rating of around 0.85, although it also is often read by non-historians.

23 08 2011
andrewdsmith

Good point David. The Econ Hist Review’s impact factor for 2010 was an impressive 0.843. However, it is categorized as an economics journal, not a history one. One of the journal’s co-editors is an economist– Stephen Broadberry.

Of course, I could go on at length about how arbitrary and intellectually-destructive the false disciplinary distinction between economics and history is. In fact, I would argue that the 2008 global financial crisis was, in part, caused by the estrangement of economics from history and their evolution into separate disciplines. However, it’s getting late. Yes, in an ideal world, the Economic History Review would be categorized as both an economics and a history journal.

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