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Ranking Women's Studies Journals

From time to time, someone on WMST-L asks about how to rank Women's
Studies journals.  What are the "top journals" in the field?  Below
are messages from 2002 and 2005 that address this question.  For
additional WMST-L files now available on the Web, see the
WMST-L File Collection.
Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002 16:54:45 -0700
From: Fiona Nelson <nelsonf AT UCALGARY.CA>
Subject: Top Feminist Journals
Hi everyone, I can see many reasons why the question I am about
to ask could be even more contentious than the question that was
asked about the founders of feminist theory BUT, I have been
asked by my faculty to list the top two or three feminist
academic journals (for some benchmarking thing that the faculty
is required to do). I'd love to hear what people think are the
top journals (you can send responses to me and I will post to the
list if people are interested).

Thank you so much!

Fiona Nelson
Assistant Professor, Women's Studies
Faculty of Communication and Culture
Social Sciences Building
University of Calgary
2500 University Drive N.W.
Calgary AB Canada T2N 1N4
nelsonf  AT  ucalgary.ca
Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002 00:32:53 -0500
From: Judith Lorber <judith.lorber AT VERIZON.NET>
Subject: top feminist journals and feminist theories
On top feminist journals -- I would say Signs, Gender & Society,
Feminist Studies -- in that order. You could do a subscription
comparison (libraries and individuals), and for the totally
quantitative -- number of reprinted articles, citations, etc.

Seriously, what tenure committees want is for those vouching for
the worth of the candidate to tell them these (and any others the
candidate has published in given the specific field) are
"prestigious, peer-reviewed journals of international standing in
gender studies scholarship."

As to Patai's complaint re standards, we make our judgements of
those we hire, promote, and support with reference letters on
many grounds. As in any field of endeavor, evaluation criteria
are multiple and serve several goals. Testifying as to the worth
of a colleague is a different task, one that usually involves, in
women's studies, testifying in the first place to the worth of
feminist scholarship and feminist journals.

Similarly, on who started feminist theory -- there isn't any one
"feminist theory" or any one "feminism" for that matter. There
are feminisms and feminist theories. I cover 12 feminisms in the
second edition of Gender Inequality: Feminist Theories and
Politics (Roxbury 2001) and some could be considered 2 --
liberal, marxist and socialist, post-colonial, radical, lesbian,
psychoanalytic, standpoint, multicultural, men's, social
construction, post-modern and queer theory.


Roxbury Publishing Company
P.O. Box 491044
Los Angeles CA 90049-9044

You can request
desk copies on the net if you are teaching in the US --

You can order the book as follows:

Go to website: http://www.roxbury.net

Go to Lorber, then click on Amazon. Once on, you should be able
to order it with your card. If not, please send a check in US
dollars to Roxbury Publishing, POB 491044, Los Angeles 90049.
Send $34.95 + shipping ($20 for airmail).


Judith Lorber, Ph.D.

judith.lorber  AT  verizon.net

"Unless the past and future were made part of the present by
memory and intention, there was, in human terms, no road, nowhere
to go." Ursula LeGuin, The Dispossessed
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2002 14:48:16 -0700
From: Fiona Nelson <nelsonf AT UCALGARY.CA>
Subject: top feminist journals
A sincere thank you to everyone who answered my recent inquiry
about the top feminist journals. I have compiled the list of
responses (in no particular order) below. Below that is the
response I received from Ruth Dickstein (thanks again and thanks
for the permission to reprint it here) that describes how one
might go about determining something like this (I had no idea).

The list:

Women's Studies International Forum
Feminism and Psychology
Feminist Media Studies
Gender & Society
Feminist Studies
Feminist Economics
Sex roles
Psychology of Women Quarterly
Women's Health
Journal of Women's Health
Women's Health Issues


University use this kind of thing to measure value of individuals based upon
where they publish. As a librarian I always squirm when I"m asked that
question, but many academics accept the "Impact Factor" from ISI's Web of
Science.  this is based upon a counting of the total cites made to
particular journals from articles published in the already identified top

I just did a search of the Journal Impact factor of the Social Sciences part
of the Journal Citation Reports (our library subscribes to this) and here is
what came up: If you go by what journals received the top numbers of cited
referenced - here are the top 5
1. Sex roles
2. Signs
3. Psychology of Women Quarterly
4.Gender and Society
5. Women's Health
Now if I ask for the Impact Factor (I'll copy their definition of impact
factor into this message after the next list)
1. Journal of Women's Health
2. Gender and Society
3. Women's Health
4. Psychology of Women's Quarterly
6. Women's Health Issues

(Signs is number 8 and Sex Roles 10)

their definition:
Citation counts. The formal acknowledgment of intellectual debt to
previously-published research, publicly recorded in the references listed
by contemporary authors.

      Total citations (listed in the Total Cites column in the
Journal Rankings Window) indicates the total number of times that
each journal has been cited by all journals included in the ISI
database within the current product year.
Compiling total citations.
Citations to journals listed in the JCR are compiled
annually from the current year's combined database, regardless of
which JCR edition lists the journal and regardless of what kind
of article was cited or when the cited article was published.
Each unique article-to-article link is counted as a citation. For
example, a single article may give 40 references, but if only 35
different articles are cited in those 40 references, it is the 35
unique citations that are distributed among the cited journals.

Impact Factor

Impact Factor
The journal impact factor is a measure of the frequency with
which the "average article" in a journal has been cited in a
particular year. The impact factor will help you evaluate a
journal's relative importance, especially when you compare it to
others in the same field.

The impact factor is calculated by dividing the number of
current citations to articles published in the two previous years
by the total number of articles published in the two previous

Now there is a new company out claiming to have better data about tracking
cited references and journal importance that excludes book reviews from
their listings, but I have heard complaints from faculty about their

Fiona Nelson
Assistant Professor, Women's Studies
Faculty of Communication and Culture
Social Sciences Building
University of Calgary
2500 University Drive N.W.
Calgary AB Canada T2N 1N4
nelsonf  AT  ucalgary.ca
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2002 12:56:21 -0600
From: Phyllis Holman Weisbard <pweisbard AT LIBRARY.WISC.EDU>
Subject: Re: top feminist journals as measured by Journal Citation Reports
I share Ruth Dickstein's "squirm" factor, and would like to elaborate on
it with respect to  relying on the Impact Factor in ISI's Journal
Citation Reports for a ranking of the relative import of feminist

The first is that these are applied to science and social science
journals, but not to any in the Arts and Humanities (and perhaps
shouldn't be, but that's another topic). At any rate, that means that
people who do feminist work in literature, music, art, cultural studies,
etc. won't see "their" journals listed much.

The second, and in my view more insidious problem is that there are only
about 1,500 ISI Web of Science journals in the Social Sciences whose
cited references are included in the database. There are only 25 women's
studies journals among them.  Here are some of the significant women's
studies journals NOT among them:
the feminist law journals. While it is true that references to these
journals will be counted if they appear in any of the 25 scanned by ISI,
it is quite likely that their scores would be considerably different if
they were included in the group looked at systematically.  I've read
somewhere about the relatively high percentage of cited references in a
particular journal to other articles published by that same journal.
None of these will show up. Also, journal citations are likely to cite
similar journals. The fact that WOMEN'S HEALTH, WOMEN'S HEALTH ISSUES,
and JOURNAL OF WOMEN'S HEALTH are all among the 25 probably accounts for
their high scores.

Phyllis Holman Weisbard
University of Wisconsin System
Women's Studies Librarian
430 Memorial Library, 728 State Street
Madison, WI 53706
pweisbard  AT  library.wisc.edu
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2002 13:13:36 -0800
From: Elizabeth Say <elizabeth.say AT CSUN.EDU>
Subject: Re: top feminist journals as measured by Journal Citation Reports
Also not listed would be the JOURNAL OF FEMINIST STUDIES IN
RELIGION, the leading journal in this area.

Phyllis Holman Weisbard wrote:

> I share Ruth Dickstein's "squirm" factor, and would like to elaborate on
> it with respect to relying on the Impact Factor in ISI's Journal
> Citation Reports for a ranking of the relative import of feminist
> journals.
Date: Fri, 14 Oct 2005 13:51:01 -0400
From: Becca Cragin <bcragin AT BGNET.BGSU.EDU>
Subject: journal rankings
I was looking for suggestions of sources to help me figure out the
ranking of WS journals?

I have had a hard time doing this, as it's usually tracked according
to disciplines. The MLA's Directory of Periodicals gives some general
information (though not any ranking), but I know lots of WS journals
are usually indexed under social science. My library will be
purchasing the ISI's social science citation index/journal ranking,
which, although imperfect, would give me something to work with.

I am sure many of you have had this problem. While we all probably
have a rough sense of the ranking, the bureaucrats would like
something more concrete for third year review.

How have others handled this?

I have searched the list's archive for this issue, with little



Becca Cragin
Department of Popular Culture
108 Popular Culture Building
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, OH 43403-0226
bcragin  AT  bgnet.bgsu.edu
Date: Fri, 14 Oct 2005 15:50:51 -0700
From: Marilyn Edelstein <MEdelstein AT SCU.EDU>
Subject: Re: journal rankings and related info.
The MLA (Modern Language Association) Directory of Periodicals does
index a lot of WS journals (and other interdisciplinary journals), as
well as what is probably thousands of journals in literary studies
(broadly conceived). Although it does not provide rankings per se, it
does provide the sort of info. that evaluation and R & T committees
are interested in, especially number of submissions a journal receives
annually vs. number of articles accepted.

So, for instance, if a journal receives 500 submissions/year and
accepts 10 articles, it's clear to such committees that this is a
highly selective journal. Also, the MLA Directory lists circulation
numbers, which can be one indicator of scholarly reach of the journal.
I know that at my institution, many people being evaluated in one
context or another xerox pages from this directory to include with
their evaluation and/or R & T materials. Such relevant info. may also
be included in other disciplines' journal directories. Marilyn

Marilyn Edelstein
Associate Professor of English
Santa Clara University
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara CA 95053
medelstein  AT  scu.edu

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