The Landscape of Hazard and Disaster Journals

As many researchers find, navigating the mass of academic journals can be overwhelming. The field of hazard and disaster research is particularly challenging given its inherently inter-disciplinary nature. I set out to compile a list of relevant hazard and disaster journals, as well as metrics that might characterize their relative importance in the field. The results were highly insightful, and something I wish I had access to from the start of my PhD program. I’m sharing here for other postgraduate students and researchers interested in identifying potential publication outlets or seeking the best of hazard and disaster literature.

I started by compiling journals that I have previously cited and snowballed from there. With a bit of additional searching, I came up with a list of 64 journals – not insubstantial, yet probably missing a few (see below on how you can help me expand this list). Once I had an initial list I was interested in understanding which journals have the greatest comparative impact on the field of hazard and disaster research. I have to admit that this is a rather problematic question and there is no easy way to answer it. I ultimately compared three journal metrics from Thomson Reuter’s Journal Citation Reports (JCR) and two journal metrics from Scimago Lab’s Journal & Country Rank. While these provide a quantitative means to compare journals, I want to briefly discuss their limitations up front. Firstly, not all journals are indexed in the databases these two sources use to calculate metrics. There are leading experts who regularly publish in some of these journals. I frequently cite in several of these. The journal might also be too young to have metrics. Journal metrics also tend to weigh journals that have a broader focus – specialty journals typically have lower metrics as a result of narrower focus (for more on this see my discussion below on metric calculations). Low, or absent, journal metrics should not take a journal off your reading list. I can’t emphasize this enough. Despite these limitations, established journal metrics, in combination with other resources, can help provide direction for where to read and publish.

Results: Mapping the Landscape of Hazard and Disaster Journals

Note: Please excuse the lack of mobile responsiveness for the chart above. Google currently does not make it easy to create responsive charts and I’m in the process of trying to update for anyone using tablets or mobile devices where the interactive features aren’t working.

So what were the results? To make things easy, I’ve created an interactive chart which summarizes the landscape of hazard and disaster journals. I’ll briefly run through the chart and then will dive into a deeper analysis (for those interested) of what these numbers mean. For mapping purposes, I’ve used only the Scimago Lab metrics because they pull from the SCOPUS database which indexes a larger number of journals than the Web of Science database used by Thomson Reuters (see below for the Thomson Reuters metrics). On the x-axis, I’ve plotted the year that the journal started. Obviously, older journals are going to have more content and usually, as a result, have gained traction within academic circles (but not always). In addition, I’ve plotted journal H-Indices on the y-axis. This is a measure of journal productivity, and to some degree, impact. The plotted location obviously has importance in representing the prestige of the journal, but I’ve used a bubble chart for the purpose of showing a third, and arguably the most important metric, the SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) of each respective journal. This is denoted by the size of the bubble. This metric takes into consideration both the number of citations in a journal’s given category field, but also where these citations came, weighting more important journals more heavily. So journals that are performing better should be higher on the chart, and more importantly, be larger in size. Curse over bubbles (journals) to find out more information about them!

Under the Hood: A Look at Journal Metrics

To provide some context to the numbers presented above, as well as discuss the journal list provided below, I will walk through five metrics that I have compiled for the selected journals. The first three (impact factor, 5-year impact factor, and eigenfactor scores) are published annually by Thomson Reuters in their Journal Citation Reports (JCR). The last two (SCImago Journal Rank and H-Index) are published by Scimago Lab on their Scimago Journal & Country Rank website.

Impact Factor (IF)

The journal Impact Factor (IF) represents a general measure of prestige for a journal by calculating the average number of times articles from that journal, published in the last two years, have been cited in the selected year (Garfield 1994). It is calculated by dividing the number of citations in the current year by the total number of articles published in the given journal in the two previous years. In practice, an IF of 1.0 would mean that the average article in a journal over the last two years has been cited once. An IF of 5.0 would mean that, on average, the average article in a given journal over the last two years has been cited five times. The citations used for calculating the impact factor of a journal may be citations within the same journal. Any citations, including in other journals, proceedings, or books that are indexed in the database considered are used to calculate the impact factor.

5-Year Impact Factor

The journal 5-year Impact Factor is the average number of times articles from the journal published in the past five years have been cited in the current year (Garfield 1994). It is calculated by dividing the number of citations in the current year by the total number of articles published in the five previous years.

Eigenfactor Score

The Eigenfactor Score calculation is based on the number of times articles from the journal published in the past five years have been cited in the current year, but it also considers which journals have contributed these citations (Bergstrom 2007). In this metric, highly cited journals will influence the network more than lesser cited journals. This means that different sources of citation will carry different weight in determining the Eigenfactor Score. In addition, unlike the Impact Factor metrics, citations within a journal are excluded. The metric is grounded in network theory and draws from eigenvector centrality as a means to understand which nodes have the most importance in a given network. I won’t dive into the details of the calculations, but if you are interested in Eigenfactor Scores I encourage you to checkout the Eigenfactor® Project.

H-Index

The H-Index expresses a journal’s number of articles (h) that have received at least h citations (Scimago Lab 2016). It quantifies both journal scientific productivity and scientific impact. For example, if a journal has five articles that are cited 23, 17, 15, 4, and 2 times, respectively, the journal would have a H-Index of 3. The H-Index is also commonly used as an indicator of individual researcher performance.

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR)

The SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) expresses the average number of weighted citations a journal receives in the previous three years (Scimago Research Group 2007). It is based on the idea that ‘all citations are not created equal.’ Similar to the Eigenfactor Score, SJR is based on eigenvector centrality from network theory and was largely inspired by the PageRank algorithm. It is a measure of scientific influence of journals that accounts for both the number of citations received by a journal and the importance of the journals where these citations originate. For more information about the SJR, checkout this information sheet provided by Scimago Lab.

 Top Performing Journals

So who were the top performers? Not surprisingly, some of the broader topic journals. Global Environmental Change topped the list based on SJR, followed by Environment International and Ecosystems. While the order shifted slightly based on H-Indices, the same three remained at the top. In terms of more specialty journals that have a narrow focus on hazards and disasters, Landslides, Earthquake Spectra, the International Journal of Wildland Fire, and Natural Hazards stood out from the crowd.

Top 10 Journals Ranked by SJR

Journal NameSJR
Global Environmental Change3.504
Environment International2.684
Ecosystems2.403
Journal of Risk and Uncertainty2.127
Ecology and Society1.933
Environmental Science & Policy1.656
Landslides1.612
Climate Policy1.538
Earthquake Spectra1.460
Cities1.422

Top 10 Journals Ranked by H-Index

Journal NameH-Index
Environment International120
Ecosystems112
Global Environmental Change103
Ecology and Society87
Risk Analysis87
Environmental Management83
Environmental Science & Policy68
International Journal of Wildland Fire61
Earthquake Spectra60
Natural Hazards60

Building a Comprehensive List of Hazard and Disaster Journals

I’ve also provided a list below of the all journals compiled to date. In addition to the Scimago Lab metrics mapped above, I’ve also included the Thomson Reuters metrics below. The Thomson Reuters metrics include impact factors, 5-year impact factors, and eigenfactor scores. You can view and filter the data below, as well as copy, print or export to CSV, Excel, and PDF file formats.

I welcome suggestions for additional journals to add to the list! I (and hopefully all of you) would like to see the list grow to capture the full spectrum of where hazard scholars are publishing and referencing. I’ve included a link to a form below where you can add your suggestions for journals that are missing. I will look up the metrics for journals you suggest – no work required on your end!

In addition, I hope to add additional information for the selected journals in the future. A few ideas I’ve had already include the country where the journal is based, ISSN, whether the journal is open access, other metrics (e.g. total citations), categories used for metrics, and topic tags. As for future directions, stay tuned as I’m working to post a similar list of journals that relate to international development as well as construction and management. For any comments or suggestions, please feel free to comment below. For corrections, please feel free to email me directly at aaronopdyke@gmail.com.

Acknowledgements

Journal metrics are ©2016 Thomson Reuters (2016 Journal Citation Reports®) and ©2016 Scimago Lab (Scimago Journal & Country Rank).

References

Bergstrom, C. (2007). “Measuring the Value and Prestige of Scholarly Journals.” College & Research Libraries News, 68(5), 314–316.

Garfield, E. (1994). “The Thomson Reuters Impact Factor.”

Scimago Lab. (2016). “Scimago Help.” Sicmago Journal & Country Rank, <http://www.scimagojr.com/help.php>.

Scimago Research Group. (2007). “Description of Scimago Journal Rank Indicator.” <http://www.scimagojr.com/SCImagoJournalRank.pdf>

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Dennis O'Keeffe

    Good work Aaron- keep it up – thanks

  2. Avatar
    Marla Petal

    Very interesting and helpful work… now how to get this wider coverage / impact?

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