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RE: How many (peer reviewed) journals are there?


I have published quite a bit about how many journals there are
over the last few years. With my long-standing collaborator Mayur
Amin, we published an article on the number and growth of
journals in 2001 (Scientometrics 51(1).147-162). In this article
we showed that the oft quoted high numbers of journals (Derek da
Solla Price thought millions in Big Science, Little Science, Jack
Meadows and others have said 100,000s) were more likely in the
tens of thousands if factors such as being still active, academic
and scholarly, and peer reviewed were taken into account. In a
later article in 2003 (Serials 16(2).191-7), I brought my growth
figures up to date and earlier this year reviewed all journal
publishing market data for a talk given at APE in Berlin which is
available to download (http://www.ape2009.eu ). Re-using the
methodology today would yield about 22-25,000 active, peer
reviewed, scholarly and academic titles. Carol Tenopir has also
done work on this which she mentions in her recent book on the
Information Patterns of Engineers and comes (from memory) to a
similar result of about 23-25,000.

The issues you raise about what counts as a journal and how to
establish whether something really is adequately peer reviewed or
not are highly pertinent questions. We should not expect anything
other than a fuzzy answer (the analogue question to this would be
how many readers are there, also a definitional issue). Suffice
it to say, however, that there are good circumstantial grounds
for believing that peer reviewed journal numbers in 2008 will be
not less than 16,000 (based on some bibliometric analysis of ISI
data), cluster around 22-25,000 as the most likely figure (using
filters and Ulrichs database), but of course may be perhaps a bit
higher if a very loose definition of peer review is adopted.

What I have always found fascinating in analysing this data is
that the growth rates of journals (based on those still active at
the present time) show an astonishing consistency. From 1700 to
the present day growth in active titles has been consistently
about 3.5% despite hugely varying socioeconomic and technical
regimes in scholarship over the last three hundred years.

Best, Michael

Michael A Mabe
Chief Executive Officer
International Association of STM Publishers
E-mail: mabe@stm-assoc.org
Web: www.stm-assoc.org

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu Joseph J. Esposito
Sent: 04 November 2008 22:50
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: How many (peer reviewed) journals are there?

In a conversation with a client recently, I made the offhand
remark about "the 24,000 peer-reviewed journals."  She said, Not
so fast!  That number is suspect; the actual number is both
bigger and smaller.  The number is smaller, in her view, because
only a subset of journals have a careful peer review process; and
it is larger in that the number of journals continues to grow,
but the review process is often sketchy at best.  (As far as I
know, none of this has anything to do with whether a journal is
open access or toll access.)

Clearly there are matters of definition at issue here:  What must
peer review consist of in order for it to earn the use of the
name? And while we are at it, what is a journal anyway?

I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has some thoughts on
this topic.

How many journals are there?

Joe Esposito