Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

How Much Do Core Journals Change over a Decade? the Case of Communication Disorders

Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

How Much Do Core Journals Change over a Decade? the Case of Communication Disorders

Article excerpt

This study replicates the method of identfying core journals in the field of communication disorders published in the January 2001 issue of Library Resources and Technical Services for the purpose of determining the degree to which the ranked list changed after ten years. Two measures are used to assess the reliability of rankings over time: Spearman's rho rank correlations among the citing journals and coefficients of variation among cited journals. Rank correlations of groups of journals can mask important changes in rank for individual titles, so characteristics of the journals with the greatest movements in rank over a decade are explored. Major findings are that the discipline's literature grew substantially over the decade, and the core journals remained stable over ten years ([r.sub.s]=0.73). However, despite stability of core journals over time, some titles changed dramatically in rank. Coefficients' of reliability calculated for this group of communication disorders journals suggests that approximately one-third of observed change in ranks is because of random variability in works cited.

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The January 2001 issue of Library Resources and Technical Services (LRTS) published an article by this author on core journals in the field of communication disorders. (1) The purpose of the present study is to determine the degree to which the ranked list of frequently cited journals in communication disorders changed after ten years. Because serials collection development relies on choosing the most relevant journals among many, keeping track of changes in core journals over time is vital. An important related question is whether changes in rank observed over time were greater than variation in ranks between titles coveting the same years. This is important because reliability (consistency of measurements) indicates whether changes in rank are indicative of journals' true rise or fall relative to others or the result of random movement caused by measuring different samples. Two measures are used to assess the reliability of rankings over time: rank correlations among the citing journals and coefficients of variation among cited journals. Correlations of journal rankings provide a useful measure of the reliability of core lists over time, but looking at journals as a group can mask important changes in the ranks of individual titles. Therefore this study includes a look at the characteristics of journals that experienced the greatest movement up or down the ranked list of most frequently cited journals in the field of communication disorders.

Literature Review

In her conclusion to a 2003 overview of journals in communication disorders, Shpilko recommended that future researchers use citation analysis to follow trends in the literature because core journals are likely to change over time. (2) Various criteria (including lists compiled by subject experts, extent of coverage by indexes, library holdings, surveys of faculty, and citation data) for selecting the best journals to support research within a discipline have been used by collection development librarians. (3) Citation analysis is the study of relationships between authors, articles, journals, concepts, institutions, nations, and other elements by compiling and counting references in documents. (4) Broadly stated, citation analysis is the study of relationships among published works based on the principle that a reference in a published paper implies a relationship between the cited and the citing documents. (5) One type of citation analysis is to count citations to identify leading journals in a discipline. The present study employed the method of counting citations to identify the most frequently cited journals in a discipline, in this case communication disorders.

Using Published Impact Factors to Rank Journals

Garfield's pioneering work, comparing citation counts to objectively evaluate the relative quality of journals on the basis of how frequently they are referenced, led to the creation of the Institute for Scientific Information's (ISI) citation indexes. …

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