I have mixed feelings about things like journal impact studies. Once a ranking is announced, forces come in to play to game the ranking. For journals, I have seen things like “helpful suggestions” from the editor on references that should be added before the paper can be accepted (“Perfectly up to you, of course: let me see the result before I make my final decision”). Different fields have different rates, making it difficult to evaluate journals in unfamiliar fields. Overall, I don’t know what to make out of these numbers.
I think I am particularly annoyed about these rankings since my most cited paper (according to Google) doesn’t even exist, according to “Web of Knowledge“, the current face of what I knew as the Science Citation Index. According to “Web of Knowledge”, my most cited papers are “Voting schemes for which it can be difficult to tell who won the election”, and “Scheduling a major college basketball conference”. If you go to Google Scholar or, better yet, use Publish or Perish to provide an interface into Scholar, my most cited works are the volume I did with David Johnson on the DIMACS Challenge on Cliques, Coloring, and Satisfiability and “A column generation approach for graph coloring” (with Anuj Mehrotra). “Voting Schemes…” and “Major College Basketball…” come in third and fifth. Now I understand that the volume is difficult to work with. Editors of refereed volumes don’t often do much research in putting together the volume, though I would argue that this volume is different. But where is “Column generation approach…” in Web of Knowledge? How can my most referred-to (and certainly one of my better) papers not exist there?
It turns out that in 1996, when “Column generation was published”, INFORMS Journal of Computing, where it was published, had not been accepted by ISI, so, according to it and its successors, INFORMS Journal of Computing, Volume 8, does not exist (indexing seems to have started in volume 11). Normally, this wouldn’t matter much, but we do keep track of “most cited” papers by the faculty here, and it hurts that this paper is not included. And including it would increase my Web of Knowledge h-index by one (not that I obsessively check that value more than a dozen times in a year and wonder when someone is going to cite the papers that just need one or two more cites in order to ….., sorry, where was I?).
This is a long way of saying that while I am not sure of the relevance of journal rankings and ISI acceptance, I certainly understand its importance. So it is great when an operations journal I am involved in, International Transactions in Operational Research, gets accepted into ISI. ITOR has done a great job in the last few years in transitioning into being a good journal in our field. The editor, Celso Ribeiro, has worked very hard on the journal during his editorship (I chaired the committee that chose Celso, so I can take some pride in his accomplishments). ITOR is a journal from the International Federation of Operational Research Societies (IFORS), so this is good news for them too. Some schools only count journals with ISI designation. ITOR gives a new outlet for faculty in those schools.
Congratulations ITOR and Celso!