The Changing Landscape of Marketing Journals

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A few days ago, I received a very interesting email about the relative impact of different marketing journals. As an Associate Editor of the Journal of Retailing (marketing’s oldest journal), it told me about the relative citation counts of different marketing journals. The measure, by ISI Web of Science, signifies the amount of impression or impact that the journal makes, by measuring how much articles from the journal are cited in other scientific journals. The letter was accompanied by a flyer attachment, which I present above for your to read.

Amazingly, the Journal of Retailing finished first of all marketing journals, and 4th of all business journals. It finished second in its 5-year impact factor measure, which indicates to me that this is not a fluke or an anomalous good year.

The Journal of Marketing finished second, but its 5-year impact factor is far above any of the other journals, even JR.

The Journal of Retailing and its editors deserve a huge round of congratulations. The journal has been open to, and even encouraging of, high-quality qualitative, consumption studies, or consumer culture-based research. Eric Arnould, John Sherry, Janeen Costa, and I have all published recently in the journal (or are about to), along with many interesting new authors like Candice Hollenbeck, Cara Peters, and Rohit Varman.

I know that, in many schools, JR is considered to be an A- or B+ journal. I think these recent ratings should give pause to committees to reconsider this rating. The journal should move up in school ratings, and enter the Financial Times list of recongized publications. This would make good sense.

I know that, when I went up for tenure at Kellogg, my two JR articles were not even considered (at least, not considered in any positive way). All that counted were my 6 articles in the big 3: JM, JMR, and JCR. The EMJ article I wrote, which now has been cited over 250 times, was not even worth mentioning. But those two JR articles were very important work, one on retail brand ideology, and another on the mythic elements of themed retail brand stores. I now believe that the latter work (on ESPN Zone) could well have been published in the Journal of Marketing. But it is a great fit for JR and I am glad it is in there.

Marketing Journal Ratings Table

Take a closer look at the table above of these ratings.

The other remarkable thing about these ratings is the position of the Journal of Consumer Research, the flagship journal of the consumer research field. It places in 12th position, well below such journals as JCP, JPIM (both of which have done extremely well), JSR, JIM, and IJRM. In terms of the 5-year factor, JCR is still doing okay (it is in 6th place). But in terms of overall business journals it is in a dismal 60th place. Something seems to be happening to the journal in terms of its impact.

What is going on with JCR? Perhaps it is too insular. JCR authors are only citing other JCR authors. Perhaps it is too derivate, with JCR authors drawing on source fields like social and cognitive psychology for most of their references, with those field rarely drawing back on JCR for references. Perhaps it is publishing too many articles. Perhaps it is just publishing a lot of irrelevant research that no one cites.

Now that is not always trues. Of my four highest-cited articles, two of them are in JCR (Burning Man and Star Trek). JCR still seems to have make-or-break status for people’s careers. It certainly has been critical to my own career. People read the journal, and they seem to cite the articles. But comparatively, something must be happening to result in these worrisome ratings for JCR. As time goes on, how can JCR maintain its elite status and its prestigious position on important evaluative lists such as the Financial Times ratings of relevant business school publications?

What can be done to help JCR? First, we need to get to the bottom of the problem. That is going to require some deep investigation and some honest soul-searching. The first step to solving a problem is often admitting that there is one.

In the meantime, a big woo-hoo for JR and JM, two very strong journals that keep on getting stronger. They are both more open than ever to quality work that uses qualitative, netnographic, ethnographic or other cultural approaches and theories. And people are reading those articles, and using them. Dhruv, Mike, Jim, and Rajiv—great job, and mission almost accomplished.

Fellow scholars, we need to get behind this successful, established, impactful journal. Let’s not only elevate the Journal of Retailing to A, or top-tier, status in our evaluations. Let’s give it an A+. And CCT people–flood the airwaves, JR is open to you.

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