Webology, Volume 6, Number 1, March, 2009

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A study of journal publication attributes: Some considerations for academics in the information systems discipline

Carmine Sellitto
PhD, Centre for Tourism and Services Research, Victoria University, PO Box 14428, Melbourne, Australia 8001, Phone: +61 3 9919 4341, Fax: +61 3 9919 5424. Email: carmine.sellitto (at) vu.edu.au

Received December 18, 2008; Accepted February 15, 2009


This paper reports on research that examined the publication attributes of highly rated information systems journals. Publishing attributes investigated include journal age and size, circulation, number of articles published, annual subscription cost, frequency of publication and article length- attributes that have all been alluded to as being associated with journal standing and quality. The paper also argues that a journal's impact factor (JIF) encapsulates citation practices that are a reflection of the knowledge diffusion value of the journal- a characteristic that allowed the correlation between a journal's average 5-year JIF and associated publishing attributes to be investigated. The study used statistical analysis to determine that only two publishing attributes- circulation (0.417) and article length (0.432), were found to positively correlate with the averaged JIF and hence, assist with knowledge diffusion. Indeed, academics in their manuscript preparation may do well to consider circulation (journal reach) and journal article length (richness) as important publishing attributes that can be regarded as having the potential to contribute to the dissemination of scholarly knowledge.


Information systems; Citation; Journal; Impact Factor; ISI; Circulation; Article length; Knowledge diffusion


One of the closely aligned measures that reflects scholarly citation is a journal's impact factor (JIF), that was proposed some 50 years ago by Garfield (Abt, 2004). The JIF is a calculated value that can be used to measure the citations to articles published in a journal. The derivation of this impact factor involves determining the number of citations to a journal's articles within a two-year period and then dividing this citation tally by the total number of articles published by the journal for the corresponding period (Moed, 2005). Hence, each journal has a calculated metric value that will reflect the journal as a source of cited articles for this period- the higher the value, the greater the citation of articles in that journal by others. Indeed, a journal's JIF has been viewed as one of the commonly accepted means of gauging a journal's standing by editors, authors and university administrators (Kemerer, 2004; Moed, 2005; Smith, 2005; Sombatsompop & Markpin, 2005; Steele, 2006).

The JIF is not without its critics and can be affected by author self-citation, journal age, the two-year citation window, statistical variance between journal years and poor cross-discipline comparability (van Leeuwen, Moed & Reedijk, 1999; Amin & Mabe, 2000). However, given the espoused criticisms of the JIF, it does provide a fundamental affiliation with the concept of capturing article citation, and as such reflects the value of the journal as a conduit for linking knowledge threads between one author and another. There also other factors that have been alluded to as potentially increasing the likelihood of an article being cited- factors that are affiliated with the publishing attributes of a journal and include journal age, circulation, articles published, cost, frequency, journal size and article length. Indeed, journal publication attributes seem to be seldom considered as part of an author's journal selection process, yet such attributes are commonly referred to as having an important influence on a journal's standing to potentially enhance the citation of an article- in effect facilitating knowledge diffusion. This study examines a set of journal publishing attributes that have been alluded to as contributing to increased article citation, and compares these against an average JIF- a factor that is a commonly accepted measure of the citations to articles published in a journal.

Scholarly Publication and Information Systems

The publishing of scholarly works can be achieved through a variety of outlets, be it the traditional book, journal, monograph or electronic form. However, the advent of the peer-reviewed journal provides one of the important and most significant avenues for the dissemination and extension of knowledge. Indeed, the scholarly peer-reviewed journal tends to enjoy unchallenged leadership as the preferred, and traditional, publication outlet for academics and professionals (Tenopir & King, 2001).

In a nascent and dynamic discipline such as IS, not all journals have attained a JIF value and as such various IS ranking studies have proposed different journal lists in an endeavour to highlight appropriate publication outlets (Nord & Nord, 1995; Katerattanakul & Han, 2002; Katerattanakul, Han & Hong, 2003; Peffers & Ya, 2003; Lowry, Romans & Curtis, 2004). Moreover, authors may have the perception that higher listed journals have a greater quality value- the journals potentially providing greater opportunities for the citation of an author's work. Extra to the identified journal ranking studies, the Association for Information Systems (AIS)- the global organisation that serves as the representative body of academics specialising in IS, documents and ranks over one hundred publications as outlets for their scholarly work (http://isworld.org/csaunders/rankings.htm). Hence, for many scholars the decision to publish their research entails selecting an appropriate outlet that provides a suitable conduit that will allow both the exposure of their work, as well facilitate recognition for themselves and their educational institution (Sellitto, 2005).

When examining the studies associated with IS journal order listing, certain publishing attributes are asserted as being important in influencing journal standing. Holsapple and colleagues (1994) used citation analysis for the basis of their ranking work and found that journal age was an important attribute that was associated with business computing journal standing. Peffers and Ya (2006), in their summary of IS ranking studies allude to a variety of journal attributes such as frequency of publication and journal appropriateness. Lowry et al. (2006) indicate that publishing characteristics such as total journal pages, frequency of issue and the number of articles varies between journals and can influence journal ranking. IS journal ranking has also been reported from a regional perspective where readership within geographical areas has an impact on journal lists and arguably the perceived quality of the journal (Mylonopoulos & Theoharakis, 2001). Some authors, such as Rainer and Miller (2005), have produced a composite IS journal listing based on previously reported journal studies- a best of the best ranking that reflected the high quality and more influential journals over a 10-15 year period. Many of these reported studies tend to allude to general publishing attributes such as journal circulation, age, page counts and frequency of publication that influence a journal's perceived.

Studies in non-IS disciplines also provide evidence of important publishing attributes that relate to journal value. Mort et al. (2004) alluded to journal quality as being associated with article acceptance rates and the editorial-reviewer knowledge base. Amin and Mabe (2000) examined citation impact factors as a chief measure of journal quality and identified that the type of articles published (short or full), size of the journal and the number of contributing authors as issues that can influence journal standing. Steele (2006) and Lane (2006), both highlight an emerging journal editorial practice of publishing lengthy reviews or theme-specific articles that have a greater inclination of being cited and which positively impact on the JIF. These types of articles tend to dedicate significant proportion of their pages to providing a thorough and in depth explanation of content matter providing other scholars a pertinent and specific theoretical base to cite for their own work. Chressanthis and Chressanthis (1993) proposed that journal standing was associated with a number of independent publishing attributes such as the total number of article pages printed per year, age, manuscript submission fee, and journal circulation- number of article pages having the greatest influence on generating journal citations. In terms of the economics of publishing, Bergstrom and Bergstrom (2001) examined the economics associated with scholarly publication in relation to the JIF, whilst Peritz (1995) reported a correlation between journal circulation and JIF across several disciplines. Journal reputation, which is invariably built on the value of article quality, is argued as being correlated with a journal's circulation, age, language type and the nations where the journal is published (Starbuck, 2005).

The Research Focus

The concept of the JIF in being associated with direct capture of citation practices of authors is an attribute that invariably reflects a journal's ability to facilitate knowledge exploration and extension. Drawing from the notion that the JIF as a citation metric reflects a journal's value in extending a discipline's knowledge base, and coupled with the proposal that various publishing attributes have been deemed to influence journal standing through various ranking proposals, this study:

The study provides a divergence from previous journal studies to highlight publishing attributes that various authors can regard as having the potential to contribute to, and potentially increase scholarly citation. Moreover, academics across all discipline areas can potentially gain an understanding of journal publication attributes and how they can influence the knowledge impact value of articles they might generate.

Research Design and Methodology

This study examines and documents the publishing attributes of a set of previously rated IS journals and explores the association of these attributes with respect to the documented JIF. The publishing attributes commonly alluded to as being associated with, and influencing, a journal's perceived standing or value include- age (Chressanthis & Chressanthis, 1993; van Leeuwen et al., 1999; Amin & Mabe, 2000), circulation (Chressanthis & Chressanthis, 1993; Peritz, 1995; van Leeuwen et al. , 1999; Amin & Mabe, 2000; Starbuck, 2005), number of articles published (Lowry et al., 2004), cost (Chressanthis & Chressanthis, 1993; Bergstrom & Bergstrom, 2001), frequency of publication (Chressanthis & Chressanthis, 1993; Amin & Mabe, 2000; Peffers & Hui, 2003; Lowry et al., 2004), journal size (Chressanthis & Chressanthis, 1993; Amin & Mabe, 2000; Lowry et al., 2004) and article length (Chressanthis & Chressanthis, 1993; Amin & Mabe, 2000). In order to allow a reasonable time for articles to be cited, 2004 was chosen as the year from which articles would be sourced.

Selection of Journals

The Association for Information Systems (AIS) website- Information Systems World (ISWorld)- was used to source the journals evaluated in this study. Journals listed on the ISWorld website (http://isworld.org/csaunders/rankings.htm) were examined against journal attribute characteristics in Ulrich's Periodicals Directory and the Journal Citation Reports (Thomson Reuters- previously known as Thompson Scientific). Journals that did not have a complete data set across these publication databases were eliminated allowing a final set of 45 previously identified and rated journals being used for the research. The list of journals and appropriate publishing attributes evaluated in this study are detailed in Table 1.

Table 1. Information Systems journals selected for evaluation
Journal Code Journal (ISSN) AIS Rank Points Ranking across recent studies Publish Sphere
Rainer & Miller Lowry et al. Katerattanakul et al. Peffers & Ya
MISQ MIS Quarterly (0276-7783) 1.11 1 1 1 1 US
ISR Information Systems Research (1047-7047) 2.67 3 2 2 2 US
CACM Communications of the ACM (0001-0782) 2.75 2 5 3   US
MS Management Science (0025-1909) 4.14 4 4     US
DSI Decision Sciences (0011-7315) 6.43 7 6     US
HBR Harvard Business Review (0017-8012) 8.00 6 15     US
AIMag AI Magazine (0738-4602) 9.00     9   US
EJIS European Journal of Information Systems (0960-085X) 10.17 13 11 14 4 UK
IEEESw IEEE Software (0740-7459) 11.00 11       US
I&M Information & Management (0378-7206) 11.89 12 9 15 5 N'lands
ACMTDS ACM Trans on Database Systems (0362-5915) 12.00 15   10   US
IEEETSE IEEE Trans on Software Eng. (0098-5589) 12.17 10 22 5   US
SMR Sloan Management Review (1532-9194) 13.17 16       US
ACS ACM Computing Surveys (0360-0300) 15.71 20   12   US
JComp Journal on Computing (1091-9856) 16.00   16     US
AMJ Academy of Management Journal (0001-4273) 16.60 25       US
IEEETC IEEE Trans on Computers (0018-9340) 18.00 18       US
OS Organization Science (1047-7039) 18.00 31 14     US
IEEEComp IEEE Computer (0018-9162) 18.17 19 25 16   US
ISJ Information Systems Journal (1350-1917) 18.71 36 13 17 10 US
ASQ Administrative Science Quarterly (0001-8392) 19.00 24       US
IS Information Systems (0306-4379) 20.00   21 18 21 UK
AMR Academy of Management Review (0363-7425) 20.40 32       US
JACM Journal of the ACM (0004-5411) 20.40 26   4 17 US
COR Computers and Operations Research (0305-0548) 20.50 17       UK
HCI Human Computer Interaction (1044-7318) 20.67     7   US
CMR California Management Review (0008-1256) 21.00         US
ACMTIS ACM Trans on IS (1046-8188) 24.00 9     39 US
OR Operations Research (0030-364X) 24.00   17     US
JCIS Journal of Comp IS (0887-4417) 24.87   23 26 13 US
IEEETKDE IEEE Trans on Knowledge and Data Engn. (1041-4347) 25.00         US
IBMSJ IBM Systems Journal (0018-8670) 26.00 42   8   US
ISM Information Systems Management (1058-0530) 29.00     19 38 US
ESA Expert Systems with Applications (0957-4174) 29.00     29   UK
INTFCS Interfaces (INFORMS) 0092-2102 29.00 39       US
Omega Omega (0305-0483) 29.60 48       UK
JIT Journal of Information Technology (0268-3962) 31.50     23 40 UK
JASIST Journal of Am Society for Info. Science & Tech (1532-2882) 34.00         US
JISci Journal of Information Science (0165-5515) 36.00 49       UK
INFOR INFOR (0315-5986) 37.00         Canada
CompJ Computer Journal (0010-4620) 39.33     25   UK
IPM Information Processing and Management (0306-4573) 40.50       46 UK
IJTM International Journal of Tech. Management (0267-5730) 41.00 41       Swiss
JSwM Journal of Software Maintenance & Evolution (1532-060X) 47.00         UK
JM Journal of Management (0149-2063) 50.00       50 US

Journal publishing attributes

Ulrich's Periodicals Directory was used as a data source allowing journal age, publisher details, publication frequency, circulation and institutional subscription cost to be determined.

The JIF is a calculated value derived from either the Social Science Citation Index or the Science Citation Index that forms part of the JCR. The JCR set of indexes have become the standard databases of choice for journal and citation analysis (Cronin, 2001). Amin and Mabe (2000) indicate that annual impact values are prone to statistical aberrations and that JIF evaluation based on a broader time span tends to smooth out what can be significant year-to-year variability. Hence, this study averaged the JIF across a 5 year time-period (2000-2005) in an endeavour to ameliorate the year-to-year variability in a journal's annual JIF.

Journal age is the number of years elapsed to 2004 from the first reported year of journal publication.

Circulation indicates the journal's distribution and directly reflects the publication's potential readership. Indeed, the circulation of the journal directly reflects the journal's marketing value.

Frequency of publication entails the number of journal issues that are published in an annual period.

Cost of a journal reflects the publishing paradigm associated with information access. The journal cost used in this study was the latest available rate for institutional access. All costs are expressed in US dollars with all non-US fees converted to US dollars equivalents.

Articles published relates to the number of individual research manuscripts printed in the selected year for each journal evaluated. Articles excluded editorial viewpoints or introductions, book reviews, research notes and announcements.

Journal size was based on the total number of annual pages published by a journal. The total number of journal pages were standardised to MISQ equivalents based on the work of Trieschmann, Dennis, Northcraft and Niemi (2000).

Article length is directly related to journal size and the number of articles published. This characteristic reflects the type of article published- short or long types- and is calculated as a journal's average article length across the annual publication run.

Results and Discussion

The study examined the publication attributes of 45 high rating information systems journals identified and ranked on the AIS website. Journals geography origins embraced both the North American (34) and European (11) publishing sphere. Table 2 summarises the journal attributes using their average 5-year JIF value to list them in descending order.

Table 2. Journals publication attributes by ISI
Listing based on ISI Journal Code Freq1 (N) Cost1 ($US) Circulation1 (N) Age (Years) Articles2 (N) Pages3 (N) Article Length (page) 4 ISI 5 year Mean
1 ACS 4 230 4,323 35 12 441 36.77 5.669
2 AMR 4 185 11,500 28 30 516 17.18 3.848
3 ASQ 4 190 4,484 48 16 426 26.63 3.091
4 ACMTIS 4 236 4,573 21 19 349 18.39 3.116
5 MISQ 4 115 3,000 27 25 690 27.60 3.068
6 AMJ 6 200 11,500 46 51 817 16.02 2.713
7 JACM 4 321 2,674 50 32 834 26.05 2.144
8 OS 6 296 1,900 14 48 916 19.09 2.064
9 IS 8 1,722 1,200 29 32 506 15.81 2.054
10 ISR 4 288 2,000 14 20 410 20.52 1.894
11 CACM 12 260 85,000 46 164 878 5.35 1.789
12 JASIS 14 2418 4,800 66 103 1,779 17.27 1.711
13 HBR 12 165 250,000 82 104 1,140 10.97 1.683
14 IEEETC 12 1,465 8,000 52 134 2,196 16.38 1.797
15 MS 12 591 5,000 50 121 2,182 18.03 1.583
16 IEEETSE 12 1,350 11,000 29 68 1,370 20.15 1.554
17 ACMTDS 4 235 3,300 28 21 508 24.21 1.542
18 I&M 8 716 2,500 36 72 1,109 15.41 1.516
19 JM 6 459 2,000 29 43 736 17.12 1.496
20 IPM 6 1573 2,000 41 58 869 14.98 1.410
21 AIMag 4 230 6,000 24 25 437 17.50 1.356
22 IBMSJ 4 130 30,000 42 42 784 18.66 1.344
23 IEEEComp 12 1,185 96,589 38 156 1,185 7.59 1.272
24 IEEETKDE 12 950 5,000 15 119 2,270 19.08 1.244
25 CMR 4 140 6,500 46 28 424 15.13 1.188
26 IEEESw 6 77 23,000 20 41 232 5.66 1.164
27 JComp 4 202 1,800 15 39 531 13.63 1.151
28 SMR 4 125 25,000 44 50 318 6.36 0.986*
29 JIT 4 688 700 19 27 338 12.50 0.968
30 ESA 8 2294 1481 14 111 1,801 16.23 0.931
31 JISci 6 492 3,800 25 44 590 13.41 0.900
32 OR 6 400 4,300 52 71 1,337 18.83 0.880
33 EJIS 4 596 700 13 24 416 17.32 0.861
34 DSI 4 277 4,000 34 31 613 19.78 0.802
35 JSwM 6 2129 400 15 17 389 22.88 0.638
36 INTFCS 6 296 4,000 33 46 482 10.47 0.524
37 CompJ 6 1136 4,500 46 51 926 18.17 0.523
38 COR 14 3,099 1,000 30 146 1,584 10.85 0.523
39 Omega 6 1,161 1,400 31 42 590 14.06 0.498
40 HCI 4 670 400 15 24 349 14.54 0.462
41 ISJ 4 717 400 13 17 319 18.76 0.456
42 JCIS 4 175 1,000 44 50 747 14.94 0.340
43 IJTM 8 1,864 20,000 18 93 1,198 12.88 0.233
44 INFOR 4 72 400 41 20 270 13.48 0.192
45 ISM 4 175 2,000 21 44 353 8.03 0.171

1. Sourced from Ulrich's Periodicals Directory. Cost amount is the institution subscription price in $US.
2. Article values based on manual counts for a selected year (2005) of each journal.
3. Journal page counts and average article length based on page counts standardised to MISQ journal equivalents *Only 4 years of ISI values available.

The highest average 5-year JIF was achieved by the ACS (5.669) with the lowest being ISM (0.171). The JIF mean across this set of journals was 1.45 with 27 of the 45 (60.0%) journals having an average 5-year JIF of 1.000 and above. The newer journals in the study were the ISJ and EJIS (circa 13 years), whilst the well-known HBR (82 years) was the longest published journal- the average age across all journals was 32.87 years. The collective number of pages published by journals was 37,156- with the mean number of pages published per journal being 826. The total number of articles evaluated across all journals was 2,531 representing a mean of 56.2 articles per journal. The article length across the 45 journals averaged 16.55 pages. ACS published only 12 articles and had the highest number of pages per articles (36.77) reflecting article types that were information dense and verbose- commensurate with the journal's aim of publishing articles (survey and symposium focused) that tend to review and integrate the existing research literature or comprehensive tutorial papers aimed at the inexpert audience. Indeed, ACS articles in being thorough, informative and timely would provide practicing academics appropriate works that could be used to justify or base their own articles on. It has been suggested that a way in which to improve the citation of a journal's articles is to publish lengthy review-type manuscripts (Steele, 2006; Lane, 2006)- a practice that potentially can increase a journal's JIF- the ACS being a possibly example of the phenomenon at work. The ACS was more than 8-9 pages ahead in average article content than the next highest journals- MISQ (27.60) and ASQ (26.63). Paradoxically, ACS published the least number of articles, with the highest concentration of information content.

The journal subscription fees can be considered to be a cost associated with information access and tends to be directly related to publishing overheads that may include pre-press editing and manuscript preparation, marketing, printing and distribution. Cost can also directly reflect frequency of journal publication and the size or volume of the journal. Indeed, the journal with the greatest number of average issues per year, COR, had the highest subscription fee. On the other hand several journals publishing a high number of issues such as CACM and HBR had a relatively low subscription fee that may be explained by their larger circulation (85,000 and 250,000 respectively) allowing publishing costs to be dispersed across this broader circulation base. The European-based journal with the highest average 5-year JIF was IS (2.054) with many of the top 20 list journals having a US based publisher. Indeed, only three European journals (IS, I&M AND IPM) are in the top twenty order when it comes to their average 5-year JIF value, with the majority relegated to the lower portion of the journal list.

How publishing attributes correlate with journal impact factor

The study used a Spearman's rank order correlation (rho) to examine the association between publication attributes and a journal's average 5-year JIF value. Correlation values are summarised in Table 3.

Table 3. Spearman's (rho) Correlation Coefficient of journal publishing attributes (**p<0.01)
Table 3. Spearman's (rho) Correlation Coefficient of journal publishing attributes

* Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).
** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

Some of the correlation findings are not surprising given the traditional publishing paradigm in which these journal attributes operate. For example: Frequency of journal publication was found to be:

Journal age was found to be:

However, when it comes to the JIF, moderate, but significant, positive correlation was found between a journal's average 5-year JIF and two publishing attributes- circulation and article length. Arguably, these two attributes are associated with journals that have a relatively greater propensity to facilitate knowledge diffusion as reflected in a higher JIF. These two publishing attributes identified as positively correlating with the average 5-year JIF can be viewed as addressing the journal's reach and article information richness paradigm. Journal reach is reflected in the broad journal circulation base, whilst richness embodies the type of article published, longer articles having a higher information density than shorter journal articles.

A high journal circulation can be viewed as an important marketing characteristic in that it exposes a published article to a relatively higher number of readers- all these readers being potential citers of the article. Hence, knowledge extension is founded on the journal being a citation source based on its relative reach. Circulation has been previously identified as a journal attribute that potentially impacted on the perceived quality of a journal and also subsequent ranking by academics. In the context of previous work, various authors (Chressanthis & Chressanthis, 1993; van Leeuwen et al., 1999; Amin & Mabe, 2000; Starbuck, 2005) have proposed that journal circulation reflects the publication's potential readership and by inference increases the standing of the journal. This study supports these previous findings in general with respect circulation being positively correlated to the JIF.

Information richness relates to article length (long or short). The longer a journal article, the greater likelihood that the author has been able to formulate arguments, develop constructs, or accordingly place their work in theoretical context by providing and examining the supporting evidence. These lengthier articles can be assumed to be more complex and information rich- potentially stimulating prospective readers to tacitly harness and interpret the article's ideas to shape their own work. Knowledge extension in this instance is founded on the journal being a citation source based on its relative article richness. This study supports previous assertions by Steele (2006) and Lane (2006) who suggested that the publishing of lengthy reviews or theme-specific articles had a greater inclination of being cited and hence affecting the JIF. Furthermore, the findings of this study are aligned with the relatively few works (Chressanthis & Chressanthis, 199; Amin & Mabe, 2000) that have proposed that the length of a journal article has any relevance in considering the standing of the journal- in this instance being positively associated with the journal's JIF.

Implications for authors/scholars and journal editors/publishers

For the scholar in general, and the IS academic in particular there should be an awareness that journal reach and article richness should not be overlooked when considering outlets for publishing their work. These two publishing attributes can be argued as being important in increasing the propensity of an author having an article cited by other scholars as a knowledge source. Moreover, the interesting implication is that perhaps authors should be writing longer articles to increase the likelihood of being cited- hence, their work acting as a conduit for progressing a discipline's knowledge base. This is not to imply that authors should simply write longer papers, with superfluous content- the content should add value to the paper and be commensurate with the paper's underlying constructs and themes.

The journal publishing process is a regimented and well-planned exercise. Arguably, publishers and editorial boards have control over many, if not all of the traditional publishing attributes investigated. For example, a publisher can influence and/or direct the type of articles a journal accepts- long or short; the number of issues that need to be published based on journal demand and reader feedback; journal circulation can be based on a niche market or be directed to a broad readership. Given that these traditional publishing attributes tend to be relatively constant publishing factors and ones under the control of editors and publishers, it could be argued that publishers/editors may consider examining the two identified attributes that correlated positively with journal impact factors in an endeavour to expand or improve the knowledge diffusion characteristics of their journals.


This paper reports on research that examined the publication attributes of 45 high rating information systems journals. It was argued that the modern day journal impact factor (JIF) by reflecting the citation practices of authors is a characteristic that invariably reflects a journal's ability to facilitate knowledge diffusion and extension. Drawing from the assertion that the JIF as a citation metric reflects a journal's value in extending a discipline's knowledge base, and coupled with the proposal that various publishing attributes have been deemed to influence journal standing that is reflected in this factor, the study examined the association of publishing attributes with the JIF. Of the seven publishing attributes investigated (journal age, circulation, number of articles published, subscription cost, frequency of publication, size and article length) only two- circulation and article length- positively correlated with a journal's average 5-year JIF. Using these two attributes that tend to reflect journal reach (circulation) and article information richness (article length) it was postulated that these two attributes should be consideration in the formulation and writing of academics journal articles.

Study Limitations

The study was limited to examining journal attributes that were tangible in definition and, hence, able to be clearly calculated (e.g., journal page counts and age) or accessed (publication frequency, JIF). Various intangible publishing attributes such as acceptance rates, the editorial-reviewer knowledge base and editorial affiliations can and do also influence publishing behaviour. However, such attributes are difficult to source and cannot be overtly documented or readily determined, hence were not considered in this study.

Journal circulation was based on the traditional publishing paradigm and does not accommodate the potential variances that may be associated with electronic journal access- downloads, page views, etc. Such data is difficult to source and when identified can have a questionable reliability and be difficult to interpret. Notwithstanding these concerns, electronic circulation values may have resulted in different findings.

The study used Ulrich's Periodicals Directory to source journal data. Ulrich's relies on publishers to voluntary maintain their data listings in an endeavour to reflect accurate and comprehensive journal statistics. Arguably, any lack of compliance by publishers in periodically updating their data may have resulted in the use of dated journal attribute values. Hence, the limitations associated with data sourced from the Ulrich's Periodicals Directory, can also be considered to be a limitation of this study.

Future Research

The paper examined the publishing attributes associated with information-systems journals listed on Association for Information Systems (AIS) website- Information Systems World (ISWorld). In terms of consolidating the paper's findings across a broader set of IS journals- not just the best-ranked ones- a greater range and number of journals needs to be evaluated. A broadening of the journal sample base will allow the research to claim some form of generalization across the spectrum of IS publications that potentially included lesser known and niche-type outlets. Moreover, a selection of open-access journals should be incorporated in future studies. Given that these open-access journals have the potential to engage a high number of readers due to their free availability in the online environment- the reach attribute proposed in this study would allow a comparison between the traditional and open-access publishing paradigm and highlight any differences.

In terms of exploring academic publishing values, a complementary field study could be undertaken to elicit the behaviour of, perhaps, different classes of authors in their selection of journals with a focus on finding out which journal attributes they value in making their selection. Such a study would complement the current study. Furthermore, only a single year of annual publications was evaluated in this study for each journal and future research should expand the annual publication to include several years of article output- which will add a confirmatory and consolidating base this study's findings.


Bibliographic information of this paper for citing:

Sellitto, Carmine (2009).   "A study of journal publication attributes: Some considerations for academics in the information systems discipline."   Webology, 6(1), Article 66. Available at: http://www.webology.org/2009/v6n1/a66.html

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Copyright © 2009, Carmine Sellitto.