Neophilia Ranking of Scientific Journals

25 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2015 Last revised: 19 Jun 2021

See all articles by Mikko Packalen

Mikko Packalen

University of Waterloo - Department of Economics

Jay Bhattacharya

Stanford University - Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: September 2015

Abstract

The ranking of scientific journals is important because of the signal it sends to scientists about what is considered most vital for scientific progress. Existing ranking systems focus on measuring the influence of a scientific paper (citations)—these rankings do not reward journals for publishing innovative work that builds on new ideas. We propose an alternative ranking based on the proclivity of journals to publish papers that build on new ideas, and we implement this ranking via a text-based analysis of all published biomedical papers dating back to 1946. Our results show that our neophilia ranking is distinct from citation-based rankings. Prior theoretical work suggests an active role for our neophilia index in science policy. Absent an explicit incentive to pursue novel science, scientists under-invest in innovative work because of a coordination problem: for work on a new idea to flourish, many scientists must decide to adopt it in their work. Rankings that are based purely on influence thus do not provide sufficient incentives for publishing innovative work. By contrast, adoption of the neophilia index as part of journal-ranking procedures by funding agencies and university administrators would provide an explicit incentive for journals to publish innovative work and thus help solve the coordination problem by increasing scientists’ incentives to pursue innovative work.

Suggested Citation

Packalen, Mikko and Bhattacharya, Jayanta, Neophilia Ranking of Scientific Journals (September 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w21579, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2663237

Mikko Packalen (Contact Author)

University of Waterloo - Department of Economics ( email )

Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1
Canada

Jayanta Bhattacharya

Stanford University - Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research ( email )

Center for Health Policy
179 Encina Commons
Stanford, CA 94305-6019
United States
650-736-0404 (Phone)
650-723-1919 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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