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In geometry/topology, there are (at least) three specialized journals that end up publishing a large fraction of the best papers in the subject -- Geometry and Topology, JDG, and GAFA.

What journals play a similar role in other subjects?

Let me be more specific. Suppose that I'm an analyst (or a representation theorist, or a number theorist, etc.) and I've written a paper that I judge as being not quite good enough for a top journal like the Annals or Inventiones or Duke, but still very good. If I want to be ambitious, where would I submit it?

Since the answer will depend on the subject, I marked this "community wiki".

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Andy --- since there's not an answer yet, I'd suggest you ask a more specific question. What field do you care about most? Just ask that for now. –  Scott Morrison Oct 31 '09 at 6:17
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The Australian Research Council has rated essentially all mathematics journals against others in their area. Thumbing through the rankings, I find that the generally agree with my perceptions of the journals I know something about. (One annoying point: I can't find anywhere on the ARC website a key explaining what the letter rankings A*, A, B or C mean, apart from A* being best and C worst.) You can find the rankings here: arc.gov.au/era/era_journal_list.htm –  Dan Ramras Apr 25 '11 at 22:33
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@Dan: As far as I know (though I now can't seem to find this on the ARC's web site), A* means top 5%, A the next 15%, B the next 30% and C the bottom half (this breakdown refers to the number of journals and doesn't seem to take into account other factors such as the amount of pages or papers published by various journals... e.g. it is conceivable that only 3.5% of published mathematics is published via the 5% of journals ranked A*). Some explanation of the categories A* thru C can be found at arc.gov.au/era/tiers_ranking.htm –  Philip Brooker Apr 26 '11 at 8:08
    
Philip, that link at the end is what I've been looking for. I'd seen it paraphrased elsewhere, but couldn't find an authoritative source. Thanks. –  Dan Ramras Apr 28 '11 at 4:15
    
I personally would not place Duke at the level of Annals, Inventiones, Acta, or JAMS. –  Bill Johnson Dec 16 '13 at 3:37
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9 Answers

The following is my personal (i.e., includes all of my mathematical prejudices) ranked list of subject area journals in number theory.

From best to worst:

1) Algebra and Number Theory

2) International Journal of Number Theory

3) Journal de Theorie des Nombres de Bordeaux

4) Journal of Number Theory

5) Acta Arithmetica

6) Integers: The Journal of Combinatorial Number Theory

7) Journal of Integer Sequences

8) JP Journal of Algebra and Number Theory

For a slightly longer list, see

http://www.numbertheory.org/ntw/N6.html

but I don't have any personal experience with the journals listed there but not above.

Moreover, I think 1) is clearly the best (a very good journal), then 2)-5) are of roughly similar quality (all quite solid), then 6) and 7) have some nice papers and also some papers which I find not so interesting, novel and/or correct; I have not seen an interesting paper published in 8).

But I don't think that even 1) is as prestigious as the top subject journals in certain other areas, e.g. JDG or GAFA. There are some other excellent journals which, although not subject area journals, seem to be rather partial to number theory, e.g. Crelle, Math. Annalen, Compositio Math.

Finally, as far as analytic and combinatorial number theory goes, I think 4) and 5) should be reversed. (Were I an analytic number theorist, this would have caused me to rank 5) higher than 4) overall.)

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The rule is: if you are a number theorist, send your better papers to general journals. I wonder for what other fields this is true to the same extent? –  H A Helfgott May 30 '13 at 18:59
    
I like the answer of Pete L. Clark, which is quite detailed. Also, I think that the "rule" that HA Helfgott gives is true for all topics. –  Jérémy Blanc Aug 23 '13 at 4:45
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Combinatorics: In my opinion, Discrete Mathematics is only a mediocre journal (I wouldn't consider this top journal). Yes, it contains good papers, but it contains a lot of papers... on average... it's average.

Some other ones worth a mention (on top of JCTA, JACO and EJoC mentioned earlier): Journal of Combinatorial Theory Series B, Journal of Combinatorial Designs, Annals of Combinatorics, Combinatorica.

The Electronic Journal of Combinatorics should probably go on the top list in combinatorics, but since it's a free, open access journal, it's usually assumed to be worse than it actually is.


Combinatorics, Probability, and Computing, the Journal of Graph Theory and the Electronic Journal of Combinatorics seem to be widely regarded as excellent journals, at the level of the ones mentioned above (except Discrete Mathematics).

Formerly, the "Journal of Combinatorics" referred to a printed version of the "Electronic Journal of Combinatorics" (which has led to some confusion, see e.g. http://symomega.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/the-arc-the-era-and-the-ejc/), although most people in combinatorics haven't even heard of it.

Joel Reyes Noche's comment points out that there is a new journal entitled "Journal of Combinatorics".

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I would appreciate if someone is able to comment on (and compare the above journals to) the following journals: "Combinatorics, Probability, and Computing", "Journal of Combinatorics", and "Journal of Graph Theory". –  Derrick Stolee Apr 27 '11 at 18:46
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The "new" Journal of Combinatorics was launched in 2010. intlpress.com/JOC –  Joel Reyes Noche Apr 28 '11 at 0:40
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That I didn't know. Thanks for pointing that out! –  Douglas S. Stones Apr 28 '11 at 2:00
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Combinatorics: JCTA (Journal of Combinatorial Theory: Series A) and JACO (Journal of Algebraic Combinatorics)

Enumerative combinatorics: Discrete Mathematics journal (DM), European Journal of Combinatorics.

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I would definitely disagree that DM is a top journal in discrete math, but maybe the picture is slightly different for enumerative combinatorics. –  Andrew D. King Oct 20 '10 at 20:53
    
In my uninformed opinion, DM, Elec JC and Euro JC are considered lesser than JCTA and JACO. But that's part of the problem with this sort of subjective question. I think one way and Anna thinks another; I have no way to know who is right. –  David Speyer Oct 20 '10 at 22:25
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In mathematical physics, Communications in Mathematical Physics is among the top journals I guess.

There are two other journals I would consider to be above average: Advances in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics and the Journal of High Energy Physics, which publish lots of high-quality mathematical physics papers, especially at the formal end of hep-th. Of course, I have heard if mentioned in the past that, especially in US maths departments where they care about this sort of things, Communications is considered a mathematics journal, whereas JHEP perhaps is not, the jury still being out on ATMP. Hence if you are a mathematician thinking of publishing a good paper in mathematical physics and want to publish in what potential employers might consider (however narrow-minded this consideration might be) a mathematics journal, then perhaps Communications is the way to go. The quality of papers there is consistently above average.

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What about the Journal of Geometry and Physics? –  Jean Delinez Feb 13 '13 at 17:02
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For algebraic geometry, I would think that Journal of Algebraic Geometry is the top specialized journal. However, there are many excellent journals that are nominally in a different (neighboring) field, which accept algebraic geometry submissions (and have algebraic geometers, or people interested in algebraic geometry, in the editorial board). Examples include:

  • JDG
  • Geom. & Topol.
  • Algebra & Number Theory
  • J Topology.

(Of course, there are also many other non-specialized journals that are suitable for an article that is almost Inventiones- or Duke-level.)

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I think the following journals are the top 3 journals in numerical analysis:

  • Numerische Mathematik

  • SIAM Journal on Numerical Analysis

  • Mathematics of Computation

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Disclaimer: I am not an algebraist, although I've played one on occasion, hence I've decided to get the ball rolling for Algebra journals.

I have heard that Journal of Algebra publishes some good papers, but that the quality can vary a lot. Any other algebraic journals out there that people recommend?

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I agree with you about the Journal of Algebra. Still, it is pretty good. A collaborator of mine submitted a paper to the Journal of Number Theory and it got accepted by the Journal of Algebra. After making inquiries, he decided he was trading up and let it stand! Also, not a very exciting response, but Algebra and Number Theory is also a very good subject area journal for algebra (maybe the best?). –  Pete L. Clark Dec 28 '09 at 11:45
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Pete, how come your friend submitted to both journals? I thought it is not allowed? Could you explain further, this sounds interesting. –  Hailong Dao Dec 28 '09 at 15:08
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@Hailong: A very belated reply...I didn't say that he submitted to both journals. I said he submitted to JNT and it got accepted by JoA. No, he doesn't understand how this could have happened either. (I should say that I of course did not check up on the story; if you want to decide that the most likely explanation is that he actually mistakenly submitted to JoA in the first place, go ahead. I think I believe him, but in part because it's much funnier that way.) –  Pete L. Clark Apr 25 '11 at 23:11
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@Pete L. Clark and Hailong Dao: I firmly believe that I once read somewhere (but cannot recall or find where) of an option for the referee to suggest a transfer of a paper to a journal that seems a thematically better fit (among the/some journals of the same publisher). Indeed, the place where I read this might well be Elsevier-related (JNT and JoA are both Elsevier journals). –  quid Apr 27 '11 at 18:48
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Other journals in algebra with a general scope include Journal of Pure and Applied Algebra, Journal of Algebra and its Applications, and Communications in Algebra; it seems in general there reputation is somewhat below that of Journal of Algebra, yet they are still considered as good/solid journals in algebra. –  quid Feb 10 '12 at 20:00
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In ergodic theory and dynamical systems the top specialized journal is... well, Ergodic Theory & Dynamical Systems. By a country mile. I don't think any other journal in this area deserves to be mentioned here.

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Many journals are named for their field...

Real Analysis Exchange

Journal of Functional Analysis

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The original question is about the standing of the journals. I may be wrong, but I feel GAFA has `usurped' the place at top of the functional analysts' table that JFA once held. But I speak from very limited experience here. –  Yemon Choi Oct 31 '09 at 21:33
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Yemon: you are right about the question. But the comparison of JFA and GAFA depends heavily on your research interest... –  András Bátkai Apr 25 '11 at 22:43
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