What are the top academic journals in various fields?
January 30, 2010 1:04 AM   Subscribe

What are the best academic journals in each field?

I'm aware of Nature and Science, but what are some other top journals in specific fields? I'm looking for anything from the engineering and sciences, to the humanities and social sciences.
posted by ollyollyoxenfree to Education (49 answers total) 71 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: In my experience, Eigenfactor usually has rankings that reflect the sentiments of people in the field.
posted by McBearclaw at 1:14 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I can't speak for any other fields, but the field I'm most acquainted with (film studies), there's really no "best" as such, there are different journals for different topics, or different approaches to topics. Within this grouping, there are certainly - I guess you would call it tiers of publications. Upper tiers and lower tiers. This doesn't necessarily mean lower is worse necessarily, it could simply be more niche.

Obviously, there are still shitty journals, but really not as many as you might think, and there are lots of good ones. If it's refereed, it's taken seriously; there are still some prestige journals, like Cahiers Du Cinema for example.
posted by smoke at 1:17 AM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: For almost all researchers in the biological sciences, Cell is the most prestigious (it outranks Science and Nature). In Immunology, it's generally considered that Nature Immunology is the best, though Immunity is also very well ranked. For dermatologists, it's Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
posted by kisch mokusch at 1:39 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: In political philosophy, there are two at the top: Philosophy and Public Affairs and Ethics.
posted by smorange at 1:43 AM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: I tend to devote most of my journal reading time on two: The Journal of Finance, for a broad perspective and Quantitative Finance for a more mathematical view.
posted by Mutant at 1:58 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I can only speak for my field, and even there, the "best" is tempered by how advisors, et al, think about the editors of each journal, and vice versa. Also, my field, theoretical chemistry, is really my former field, but I still try to keep up.

In theoretical/physical chemistry, the top is the usual big three Science, Nature, and PNAS. The "pure chemical" top of the literature is Chemical Reviews, but that is a review journal, perhaps followed by Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS). The top working journals are Journal of Chemical Physics, Journal of Physical Chemistry (in all it's A, B, C, Letters glory), and Chemical Physics Letters.
posted by Fortran at 2:23 AM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: Since I'm from one of those areas of biological sciences where no one even reads Cell, for both ecology and evolutionary biology the top journal after Science and Nature is Trends in Ecology and Evolution and close second would be Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics. For ecology alone, the top journals are Ecology and Ecology Letters.
posted by hydropsyche at 2:27 AM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: In my field of ecology and evolution: American Naturalist, Ecology Letters, Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B, and Journal of Animal Ecology are well respected. Of course the usual suspects (Nature, Science, PLoS Biology, PNAS) are also up there, but they're kind of obvious.
posted by jonesor at 3:36 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Did you want reviews as well? Since they don't contain original work, we tend to exclude them in ranking systems such as these. But because they distill a great deal of information they can collect huge citations and "out-rank" the journals that publish original data. Top of the immunology review journals is Nature Reviews Immunology. Very heavily cited journal.
I should have qualified that Cell is only read by ressearchers who are interested in understanding their field, at least in part, at the molecular level. Zoologists, botanists, ornithologists, cynologists etc. wouldn't aspire for Cell.
posted by kisch mokusch at 4:04 AM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: For Information Technology on IBM mainframe and midrange platforms, the IBM Systems Journal was always the technical standard for fifty years. It has now been rolled into IBM Journal of Research and Development. It is a must read for any systems programmer or performance analyst looking to stay in tune.
posted by netbros at 5:20 AM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: In literature in North American, it is PMLA, but various sub-fields have their own journals that are also very important.
posted by synecdoche at 5:31 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: In my disparate fields of study, the journals that come up most often are:

Microbial Ecology: Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Clinical Cancer Research: Journal of Clinical Oncology

At first glance, eigenfactor looks cool!
posted by surfgator at 5:50 AM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: In Music Education, the big one is: Journal of Research in Music Education, although there are competitors which are starting to nip at its heels.
posted by SNWidget at 6:21 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: In law it is the Harvard Law Review, though keep in mind that legal academia has the very strange distiguishing factor that most top journals are student-, not peer-reviewed.
posted by chinston at 6:34 AM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: For pure math: Annals of Mathematics, Journal of the American Mathematical Society, Inventiones Mathematicae.
posted by escabeche at 6:34 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Arguably, in Astronomy, The Astrophysical Journal.
posted by Tooty McTootsalot at 6:47 AM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: For virology and viral gene therapy: Journal of Virology
posted by sickinthehead at 6:48 AM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: That should have said Journal of Virology and Nature Gene Therapy.
posted by sickinthehead at 6:49 AM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: There really is no best journal in History. Some might say that the AHA's journal or the Historical Journal in the UK are prestigious. But the seminal articles in my field (early modern social-economic history) are more likely to appear in Past and Present, or the Economic History Review. (I love the EHR -- every issue has interesting stuff.)

But more importantly, professional kudos is fields like history comes less from what articles are published (and where), than from what book you have published and its reception.

Everyone, academic and non-academic, needs to remember that different disciplines are organised very differently, and that the model of training, work, research and publication established in some fields, such as the physical sciences, may have no equivalencies in other fields.
posted by jb at 6:49 AM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: Same thing in anthropology. There are a number of top journals (most published by sections of the AAA and aggregated in AnthroSource, but not all) and no one is considered "better" than the others. *American Anthropologist* is the flagship journal of the AAA. *American Ethnologist* is the oldest and among the most prestigious (also published by AAA's AES section). *Anthropological Quarterly* is in the same league. Most (although not me) would put *Cultural Anthropology* in the same company (published by the SCA section of AAA). *Public Culture* has similar standing, as a younger independent journal (still over 20 years old). The venerable *Annual Review of Anthroplogy* is something like a journal of record. (Privately published by Annual Reviews, Inc.). There are hundreds of other peer reviewed journals in the field, however, many quite prestigious in their disciplinary space.

In Ethnomusicology, the journal *Ethnomusicology,* published since the late 1950s by Indiana University Press, is the "flagship" journal (although its quality is inconsistent, and generally conservative with respect to the edge of the field). *Popular Music* is now pushing 25 years and has become a flagship journal as well.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:59 AM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: In the fields I work in, genomics and computational biology, Cell is basically a non-entity. The reverence with which biologists in other fields speak of it always surprises me. I'd say this is roughly our order, although there's some areas where the distinctions aren't so fine. I'd be just as happy to have a paper in Nature Methods versus Genome Research versus PNAS.

Nature (yes, not "Nature and Science")
Nature Genetics
Nature Biotechnology
PLoS Biology
Nature Methods
Genome Research
PLoS Genetics
Nucleic Acids Research
Genome Biology
PLoS Computational Biology
BMC Genomics
BMC Bioinformatics
posted by grouse at 7:26 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You might also want to check out the European Reference Index for the Humanities (ERIH), which categorized journals in 15 areas of the humanities with A, B, and C grades in 2008. New rankings are reportedly on the way.
posted by activitystory at 8:09 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The potential number of answers is huge, depending on how specialized a field you want to get to; for example there are top medical journals and within that set are top specialty journals (for example anesthesiology journals) and within that subset are top subspecialty journals (for example cardiac anesthesia journals). A similar breakdown could be made in many disciplines, potentially going down several layers in some cases. So rather than giving you a list, a more objective measure that some people use to gauge the relative importance of journals that you might want to look at is impact factor; many academic libraries include this information in literature searches.
posted by TedW at 8:14 AM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: Early Medieval Europe is quite new, and perhaps the most talked-about journal in medieval history these days. Its founding editor, Paul Fouracre, is one of the most respected medievalists (perhaps historians) practicing today.
posted by hiteleven at 8:38 AM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: My field is Management. The top journals are, Administrative Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Strategic Management Journal, and Organization Science.

However, a lot of management scholars are really just applied economics, sociology, or psychology researchers. So people also publish in good journals in those fields. In sociology, the journals that I have seen management scholars publish in are American Journal of Sociology, and American Sociological Review. The top social psychology journals that management scholars publish in are Journal of Applied Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, and Personnel Psychology.
posted by bove at 8:40 AM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The Aristotelian Society publishes its philosophical papers every year. As a philosophy undergrad in London I went to a few meetings and subscribed to the journal for a year - to say some of my lecturers also went to the meetings gives you an idea of the level the society operates at. It's total philosophy academia :)
posted by cardamine at 8:46 AM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: Biochemists don't care all that much about Cell either; I can't remember the last time I read a paper there, though people do publish there occasionally if there's some sort of very straight-bio implication of their research. People are most excited about getting a paper published in Science and Nature. After that, everyone publishes in JACS, Biochemistry, and PNAS. Also seen pretty frequently are Journal of Biological Chemistry, Chemistry & Biology, the Nature subjournals like Nature Chemical Biology or Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, Angewandte Chemie, Journal of Molecular Biology, maybe even the EMBO Journal. Beyond that, you start heading off into journals that focus on specific subfields like Nucleic Acids Research or the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry or RNA, which aren't necessarily less respected than most of the journals in the middle group for people within that subarea, but are not very important to other biochemists. You'll also see papers pop up occasionally in non-biochem journals - Inorganic Chemistry, Tetrahedron Letters, the Journal of Organic Chemistry, Cell, etc. - if part of someone's research bleeds over into those areas.

It's hard to really give much of a ranking beyond "these are the highest-ranked," "these fall somewhere in the middle," "these are more subfield-specific," and "these aren't considered very good, so I don't really read them and didn't list them here." There are also the review journals; those don't usually get lumped with the new-research journals for ranking.
posted by ubersturm at 10:03 AM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: My fields are health economics and health policy. The top journals are Health Affairs, Pharmacoeconomics, Value in Health, and Medical Care.
posted by acridrabbit at 10:03 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My specific field is Renaissance literature, and I like Renaissance Quarterly and English Literary Renaissance. Shakespeare Quarterly is, of course, essential. Critical Theory, Representations, and Signs are good for more general theoretical concerns. There are just so many... basically, any particular subfield will have at least 1 or 2. May I ask what is your particular interest in this question? Are you just compiling a list, looking to expand your regular reading...?
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:18 AM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: In law it is the Harvard Law Review, though keep in mind that legal academia has the very strange distiguishing factor that most top journals are student-, not peer-reviewed.

It depends a bit on your subfield. For law & economics, for example, it's The Journal of Legal Studies by a fair margin.

Washington & Lee has a helpful and impressively complete website for ranking law journals by various criteria (impact factor, citations by legal cases, currency factor, etc).
posted by jedicus at 11:23 AM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: The top general philosophy journals (i.e., not specialized to, say, ethics -- they are still very much academic journals) are The Philosophical Review and The Journal of Philosophy. There are a whole bunch of others, in addition to those already mentioned. Check out the results of a poll of professionals here!

One that's mentioned, Philosopher's Imprint, is open access, and free to all.
posted by kestrel251 at 12:14 PM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: Sociology: ASR and AJS.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 1:04 PM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: In CS and Electrical engineering, there's two main groups: ACM and IEEE. The ACM is more CS oriented, and the IEEE (for obvious reasons) more EE oriented. There are some CS and Software Engineering topics in IEEE however.

ACM segregates the broad area of Computing Machinery into Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and 'Transactions' on various subjects. If I had to choose one as 'top', it would be SIGGRAPH / ACM Transactions on Graphics, and their annual conference is widely attended by academia and industry. I'd say that field practitioners are most likely to care about these publications because the results are easily communicable, whereas other disciplines are not as easily reproducable. Results published at SIGGRAPH have been in the blue numerous times.

IEEE also divides it's journals into subfields. I'm less familiar with their offerings but generally they're the go-to for most EE publications.

In the field of Linux systems, the two main journals would be USENIX and the Linux Symposium that meets and publishes in Ottawa. USENIX also has a sister professional sysadmin group SAGE; I'm not how many sysadmins read journals though, as many are not college educated and even fewer have advanced degrees. The Linux Symposium, however, is the place to look for quality publications on the design and programming of Linux components.
posted by pwnguin at 2:19 PM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For Medicine in general: the Journal of the American Medical Associatation (JAMA) and The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). (Maybe also The Lancet.) For my field more specifically, the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Other Medical "main" journals:
Ortho - The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery (JBJS)
Ob/Gyn- Obstetrics & Gynecology (aka "The Green Journal")
Peds - the Journal of the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP)

Those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head, each specialty has their own of course, as does each subspecialty I'm sure.
posted by ruwan at 3:38 PM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: Neuroscientist here. Aside from Nature, Science, Cell (if applicable) mentioned above, the top neuroscience journal to shoot for would be Neuron.

I'm a neuroendocrinologist though, and neuroendocrinology as a subfield has only made it into Neuron like, twice.
posted by gaspode at 4:09 PM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: In economics, the most prestigious journal is the American Economic Review, followed by the Journal of Economic Literature.
posted by sashapearl at 5:58 PM on January 30, 2010

Response by poster: May I ask what is your particular interest in this question? Are you just compiling a list, looking to expand your regular reading...?

Saxon Kane, I'm a student that got accepted into an advanced undergrad program in science. We get mentored by scientists and get to help out with research early on in our programs. One of the aspects of the program is the whole multidisciplinary angle (we get to choose a different lab or science research area each year). So, they expect us to keep afoot of what else is happening around the place. I'm also doing a degree under humanities, so I thought it couldn't hurt doing something similar and keeping afoot of other areas outside of science (keeping in the spirit of this).

Grouse, that's why I wrote "... aware of Nature and Science, but what are some other top journals ..." I didn't imply they were one and the same.
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 7:23 PM on January 30, 2010

grouse wasn't mis-reading your question. It's an old joke: Nature and Science is (or, more accurately, was), technically, a legitimate journal (although I'm not sure if it was ever peer-reviewed). As I understand it, it was created so that people could publish their work in it and then say "oh, yes, I've published in Nature and Science..." without ever having published in Nature or Science. Created in 2003, lasted until 2005. A gimmick journal.
posted by kisch mokusch at 9:32 PM on January 30, 2010

Response by poster: ugh, thanks kisch. I didn't realise. I thought he was being snarky. Thanks. My stuff up.
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 9:47 PM on January 30, 2010

Actually, I wasn't even referring to the text of your question, ollyollyoxenfree, and I definitely wasn't snarking at you. I had no idea about the "Nature and Science" journal.

To explain a little better, as far as I am aware, in most fields Nature and Science are mentioned in the same breath, usually considered somewhat equivalent in prestige. But perhaps exceptionally in genomics, one usually finds the best papers in Nature, not in Science. I have been told that this tradition started when Nature published the public consortium's human genome paper and Science published the private Celera human genome, which somewhat controversially was not accompanied by the release of sequence data to public databases, which is required by the policies of most reputable biological journals (including Science). I think it is an interesting anomaly.
posted by grouse at 10:17 PM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: Social Neuroscientist here.
Nature reviews Neuroscience
J Cognitive Neuroscience
Trends in Cognitive Neuroscience

These are all heavy hitters, but the impact factor fluctuates for all of them. Web of Science is your best bet for figuring out who has the highest impact factor at any given point in time.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 10:29 PM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: Ecologist here. For us they are Ecology, Ecological Monographs, Ecology Letters, American Naturalist to name a few.
posted by special-k at 10:50 PM on January 30, 2010

Best answer: In Philosophy of Mind (and roughly Cognitive Science and Neuroscience, with a philosophical bent), Behavioral and Brain Sciences has historically published some of the most significant papers.
posted by dantekgeek at 8:37 AM on January 31, 2010

Best answer: For cancer biology (non-clinical):

Nature, Science, and Cell, are top in the field, but have a very general focus, so there will only be a few cancer related articles each month. PLoS is a new up and comer, and explicitly open access, which is exciting. PNAS is also pretty good, but a bit more hit or miss than the "big three." Genes and Development is good, but has a slightly different focus.

Specific cancer journals: Cancer, Cancer Cell, Oncogene, and Cancer Research are good.
posted by Endure You Are Not Alone at 7:12 PM on February 2, 2010

Best answer: In acoustics, the top journal is the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

In physics teaching and education there are arguably two publications that are put out by the American Association of Physics Teachers:

The American Journal of Physics and

The Physics Teacher.

(Both of these journals are highly accessible to readers interested in physics. AJP even seems at first like a non-education journal, but it very much is.)
posted by achmorrison at 1:58 PM on February 3, 2010

Best answer: In the field of library science, I believe that Library Quarterly is highly regarded.
posted by Jaybo at 5:29 PM on February 6, 2010

Best answer: There's some rankings and stats here.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 6:06 PM on April 28, 2010

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