What is the Most Influential History Journal?

Historians in the News
tags: journals, Google Scholar, h-index

David Austin Walsh is the editor of the History News Network. Follow him on Twitter @davidastinwalsh.

What is the most influential historical journal published in English? The answer, according to Google Scholar, is the Journal of Economic History.

Google Scholar, Google's specialized search engine for scholarly literature, uses the h-index to measure the impact of scholarly articles. Created by University of California, San Diego physicist Jorge E. Hirsch in 2005, the h-index is one of several attempts to quantify the productivity and quality of scholars. The index is a relatively simple measurement, using only the most highly-cited articles in its formulation.

Though designed to rank the contributions of individual scientists, the h-index can also be applied to researchers and publications, and according to Professor Hirsch the index will also give reasonably accurate rankings for arts and humanities journals, though it will be less reliable for individual researchers given the book-driven nature of the discipline.

Though the top two history journals are both economics-focused (and the Journal of Economic History is noted for its cliometric approach), Hirsch says that the h-index does not favor quantitative over non-quantitative research.

Paul W. Rhode, one of the editors of the Journal of Economic History, was unsurprised by the high ranking, though he cautioned against reading too much into it. “We're not a psychology journal, publishing lots of small articles that cite each other,” he said. “We're a high-quality journal that publishes serious stuff that gets attention over the long run. That's what we do.”

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