What Exactly is the Social Science Citation Index Anyway? or, which Korean IR Journals should You Read?


Yeah, I don’t really know either. I always hear the expression ‘SSCI’ thrown around as the gold standard for social science work. Administrators seem to love it, but where it comes from and how it gets compiled I don’t really understand. Given that we all seem to use this language and worry about impact factor all the time, I thought I would simply post the list of journals for IR ranked by impact factor (after the break).

I don’t think I ever actually saw this list before all laid out completely. In grad school, I just had a vague idea that I was supposed to send my stuff to the same journals whose articles I was reading in class. But given that I haven’t found this list posted on the internet anywhere, here it is. I don’t know if that means it is gated or something, or if my school has a subscription, or whatever. Anyway, I thought posting the whole IR list would be helpful for this site’s readership.

Note that a bunch of them are published in Asia, and 3 alone are about Korea (Korean Journal of Defense Analysis, Korean Observer, and NK Review) – so get to work!

But I have a few questions. First, why does Thomson-Reuters create this? Why don’t we do it? Does anyone actually know what they do that qualifies them for this ? And don’t say ‘consulting’ or ‘knowledge services’ or that sort of MBA-speak. The picture above includes some modernist, high-tech skyscraper, presumably to suggest that lots of brilliant, hi-tech theorists are in there crunching away big numbers (but the flower tells you they have a soft side too – ahh), but I don’t buy it. Are these guys former academics who know what we read? Who are they? Does anyone know? The T-R website tells you nothing beyond buzzwords like ‘the knowledge effect’ and ‘synergy.’ I am genuinely curious how T-R got this gig and why we listen to them. Why don’t we make our own list?

Next, I am not sure if the SSCI and the Journal Citation Reports from T-R are different or not or what. Click here to see the SSCI list; and here is the JCR link, which is probably gated, but ask your administration; they probably have access. There are 3038 journals in the whole SSCI list (!), 107 listed under political science, and 82 under IR. There is some overlap between the last two, but the PS list does not completely subsume the IR list, as I think most of us would think it should. For example, IS is listed only under IR, not political science, but ISQ is listed under both, even though I think most people would say IS is a better journal than ISQ. Also, there is no identifiable list for the other 3 subfields of political science. I find that very unhelpful. More generally, I would like to know how T-R chooses which journals are on the SSCI and which not. It doesn’t take much effort to see that they’re almost all published in English…

Next, I thought the SSCI was only peer-reviewed, but Foreign Affairs and the Washington Quarterly (which I understand to be solicited, not actually peer-reviewed – correct me if I am wrong) are listed on the IR list, and even Commentary and the Nation magazine are on the PS list. Wow – your neocon ideological ravings can actually count as scholarship. Obviously FA should be ranked for impact factor; it’s hugely influential. But does it belong on the SSCI? Note also that ISR is listed on the IR roster, as is its old incarnation, the Mershon ISR. Hasn’t that been gone now for more than a decade? Also when you access the impact factors (after the jump),T-R provides an IR list with its ‘Journal Citation Reports’ that has only 78 journals listed for IR, not 82. So the SSCI for IR (82) does not quite equal the JCR for IR (78). Is that just a clerical error? If so, does that mean the super-geniuses in the futuristic skyscraper are spending too much time looking out the windows at the flowers? I guess if you double-count M/ISR, you get 79, which is pretty close to 82, but given how definitive this list is supposed to be, it seems like there are problems and confusions.

Anyway, I don’t really know, so I just thought I’d throw it out there. Check the IR rankings on the next page.


2010 is the most recent year T-R provides a ranking, so I used that, plus the rolling 5-year impact factor. The ranking on the left follows the 5 year impact factor, not the 2010 one.

A few things leap out to me:

1. How did International Studies Perspectives rocket up so high in less than 15 years, higher than EJIR, RIPE, and Foreign Affairs? Wow. I guess I should read it more.

2. What is Marine Policy (no. 11) and how did it get so very high also?

3. Security Studies at 27 doesn’t sound right to me. We read that all the time in grad school.

4. A lot of the newest ones, at the bottom without a 5-year ranking, come from Asia. That isn’t surprising, as Asian countries are throwing more and more money at universities. That’s probably healthy in terms of field-range, to move beyond just Western-published ones.

5. Why haven’t I ever even heard of something like half of these journals? I guess we really are a hermeneutic circle – reading just the same journals again and again – APSR, IO, IS, ISQ, EJIR. That’s pretty scholastic when this IR SSCI list shows a rather interesting diversity I never have time to read. A shame actually…

Rank                             Title                    2010 Impact Factor           5-Year Impact Factor




INT ORGAN 3.551 5.059
2222 INT SECURITY 3.444 4.214
3333 WORLD POLIT 2.889 3.903
4444 J CONFLICT RESOLUT 1.883 3.165
5555 INT STUD QUART 1.523 2.427
6666 INT STUD PERSPECT 0.719 2.344
7777 EUR J INT RELAT 1.426 2.337
8888 FOREIGN AFF 2.557 2.263
9999 COMMON MKT LAW REV 2.194 2.071
10110 J PEACE RES 1.476 2.036
11111 MAR POLICY 2.053 1.961
12112 INT J TRANSIT JUST 1.756 1.923
13113 INT RELAT 0.473 1.743
14114 JCMS-J COMMON MARK S 1.274 1.643
15115 INT STUD REV 0.803 1.621
16116 REV INT POLIT ECON 0.861 1.519
17117 SECUR DIALOGUE 1.6 1.51
18118 INT AFF 1.198 1.496
19119 CONFLICT MANAG PEACE 0.682 1.423
19119 EUR J INT LAW 1.5 1.423
21221 WORLD ECON 0.878 1.382
22222 STUD COMP INT DEV 0.605 1.352
23223 BIOSECUR BIOTERROR 1.26 1.265
24224 REV WORLD ECON 0.966 1.201
25225 REV INT STUD 0.98 1.177
26226 MILLENNIUM-J INT ST 0.727 1.084
27227 SECUR STUD 0.766 1.065
28228 FOREIGN POLICY ANAL 0.7 1.032
29229 TERROR POLIT VIOLENC 0.814 0.946
30330 AM J INT LAW 0.865 0.858
31331 GLOBAL GOV 0.8 0.848
32332 PAC REV 0.683 0.791
33333 ALTERNATIVES 0.357 0.776
34334 LAT AM POLIT SOC 0.34 0.731
35335 STANFORD J INT LAW 0.6 0.727
36336 WASH QUART 0.65 0.721
37337 CORNELL INT LAW J 0.541 0.693
38338 COLUMBIA J TRANS LAW 0.741 0.671
39339 J JPN INT ECON 0.444 0.662
40440 COMMUNIS POST-COMMUN 0.211 0.64
41441 B ATOM SCI 1.057 0.632
42442 INT INTERACT 0.258 0.622
43443 SURVIVAL 0.472 0.615
44444 EMERG MARK FINANC TR 0.444 0.558
45 INT J CONFL VIOLENCE 0.586 0.524
46 OCEAN DEV INT LAW 0.282 0.518
47 AUST J INT AFF 0.508 0.517
48 J STRATEGIC STUD 0.344 0.491
49 SPACE POLICY 0.308 0.381
50 MIDDLE EAST POLICY 0.219 0.309
51 ISSUES STUD 0.13 0.284
52 WAR HIST 0.265 0.262
53 KOREAN J DEF ANAL 0.304 0.261
54 CURR HIST 0.139 0.19
55 WORLD POLICY J 0.144 0.164
56 J MARIT LAW COMMER 0.244 0.15
57 INT POLITIK 0.017 0.042
58 INT POLIT-OSLO 0.013 0.024
59 ASIA EUR J 0.237  
59 CAMB REV INT AFF 0.18  
59 CHIN J INT LAW 0.206  
59 COOP CONFL 0.868  
59 INT POLITICS 0.564  
59 J HUM RIGHTS 0.34  
59 J INT RELAT DEV 0.429  
59 J WORLD TRADE 0.398  
59 KOREA OBS 0.292  
59 N KOREAN REV 0.75  
59 PAC FOCUS 0.459  
59 REV INT ORGAN 0.971  
59 WORLD TRADE REV 1.231  

5 thoughts on “What Exactly is the Social Science Citation Index Anyway? or, which Korean IR Journals should You Read?

  1. Hi Robert,
    I think Marine Policy ranks highly because of the international scope of the topic and the interdisciplinary nature of the topic. So it has a huge base of readers from every nation who refer to it across several disciplines from law, to international relations, to science, to environmental engineering, etc.
    On the other hand (perhaps) IR is usually only referred to by other IR scholars.


    • Sounds right. I’d never even heard of it before. Shows you how cloistered and busy we are.

      Btw, do we know each other?

  2. You clearly have to distinguish between quality in science and quality indicators. Depending on the case these can be somewhat related or totally unrelated.

    Unfortunately, different regions of the world value one or the other more. While East Asia is “ranking crazy”, US is quite fond of ranking. So many people in these regions think that the quality of the paper is directly related to the impact factor or rank in SSCI/SCI/JCR. In Europe, for a long time, not many scientists were aware of these indicators 10 years ago, but the awareness increases – unfortunately.

    My personal opinion of bibliometrics is that these indicators are as meaningful as reducing a person to his/her IQ. Introducing ranking/indexing as one of the main parts of assessment, opens up the pathway for manipulation of these indicators and, thus, totally devaluates them.

    Just have a look at these two articles and then you’ll know what to think about JCR:
    Wilhite, A. W.; Fong, E. A. Science 2012, 335, (6068), 542-543.
    Arnold, D. N.; Fowler, K. K. Notices of the American Mathematical Society 2011, 58, (3), 434-437

    • For the IR-inclined reader, I just rechecked the last article on TRIP (Teaching and Research in International Politics) in ISQ: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-2478.2011.00653.x/abstract.

      (It’s also worth noting also that to get that link I passed through ISQ’s home page, which lists right in the middle of the page, its JCR rank and impact factor.)

      Here are the journals they list as the “most influential,” but they aren’t ranked: American Political Science Review (APSR), American Journal of Political Science (AJPS), British Journal of Political Science (BJPS), European Journal of International Relations (EJIR), International Organization (IO), International Security (IS), International Studies Quarterly (ISQ), Journal of Conflict Resolution (JCR), Journal of Peace Research (JPR), Journal of Politics (JOP), Security Studies (SS), and World Politics (WP).

      So I guess this is what we are supposed to read – not those Korean ones.

  3. Pingback: So What do you think of Open Access Journals? Ever Submit to One? | Robert Kelly — Asian Security Blog

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