Being published in A-journals matters

  • Letters
  • Tuesday, 03 Jul 2018

MANY academics today seem to be championing a move away from the “publish or perish” culture in which academics who publish prosper while those who don’t perish.

Publications that are highly valued today are those in A-journals where the standards and scrutiny are considered by many academics as “too challenging”, if not “impossible”, to achieve.

But is moving away from high standards and scrutiny the direction that we really want to pursue? I find this question most relevant for social science where the repercussions of bad research are often taken less seriously compared to those in medicine.

I firmly believe that the focus on A-journals is actually good not just for academics but also society at large.

This is because the standards required to get published in A-journals are “tougher” than those of B- and C-journals, where “tougher” refers to the higher level of expectations for and scrutiny given to the study’s novelty, rigour and impact.

That is to say, a study that cannot demonstrate convincingly what exactly is “new” in terms of theory, how this “newness” is rigorously established to be true, and why having this “newness” is especially important and significant for theoretical advancement and societal progress to a panel of international experts in the journal’s review process will very likely not be published at A-journals.

This has important implications for research investment where money, time and effort should be prudently spent on uncovering “newness” instead of replication.

I strongly believe that the strategies we develop and implement in practice must be predicated on “good” research, where “good” refers to meeting the highest quality of standards and scrutiny with respect to novelty, rigour and impact. Indeed, the prestige of A-journals is established on these standards and scrutiny, which is exemplary of the saying “the best things in life do not come easy, but they are worth the effort.”

Even though our main duty as academics is to educate and prepare the learners of today for the future, we must not forget that fundamental to performing that duty well is our ability to conduct impactful research that can withstand the test of public scrutiny to credibly support the knowledge that we preach.


Head of School

School of Business

Swinburne University of Technology

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