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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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    $\begingroup$ 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. $\endgroup$ Oct 31, 2009 at 6:17
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    $\begingroup$ @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 $\endgroup$ Apr 26, 2011 at 8:08
  • $\begingroup$ I personally would not place Duke at the level of Annals, Inventiones, Acta, or JAMS. $\endgroup$ Dec 16, 2013 at 3:37
  • $\begingroup$ @BillJohnson : Neither would I, but (IMHO) it falls just below them, and I don't know any other journals that I would place in its tier. $\endgroup$ Dec 16, 2013 at 3:51
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    $\begingroup$ @BenoîtKloeckner : They have great ambitions, but I think that at this point they have not reached them (and who knows what will happen when they start charging authors to publish in them). $\endgroup$ Aug 31, 2014 at 21:23

15 Answers 15

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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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    $\begingroup$ 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? $\endgroup$ May 30, 2013 at 18:59
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    $\begingroup$ 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. $\endgroup$ Aug 23, 2013 at 4:45
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    $\begingroup$ You missed Ramanujan Journal? $\endgroup$
    – 7-adic
    Sep 11, 2015 at 3:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Qing: I wrote this almost seven years ago. I do not claim that the list would be exactly the same if I made it today. $\endgroup$ Nov 7, 2016 at 23:28
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    $\begingroup$ There is also a long list of NT journals here: web.math.pmf.unizg.hr/~duje/ntjour.html $\endgroup$
    – Klangen
    Apr 15, 2019 at 15:09
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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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  • $\begingroup$ 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". $\endgroup$ Apr 27, 2011 at 18:46
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    $\begingroup$ The "new" Journal of Combinatorics was launched in 2010. intlpress.com/JOC $\endgroup$
    – JRN
    Apr 28, 2011 at 0:40
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    $\begingroup$ That I didn't know. Thanks for pointing that out! $\endgroup$ Apr 28, 2011 at 2:00
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    $\begingroup$ Should SIAM Discrete Math be somewhere in this ordering? $\endgroup$ Feb 12, 2015 at 4:36
  • $\begingroup$ One thing Tim Gowers said back in 2012 was, When I see the name “Electronic Journal of Combinatorics" ... my instinct is to read it as ..., “Journal of Combinatorics—except it’s only electronic”. ... The word “electronic” has entirely negative associations. (... I should say that yesterday out of curiosity I browsed the archive of the Electronic Journal of Combinatorics for the first time ever, and discovered to my surprise, and slight shame, that it was full of excellent papers by excellent mathematicians.) $\endgroup$ Jan 27 at 23:02
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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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    $\begingroup$ What about the Journal of Geometry and Physics? $\endgroup$ Feb 13, 2013 at 17:02
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    $\begingroup$ Also, what about Letters in mathematical physics ? $\endgroup$
    – Vamsi
    Dec 9, 2016 at 6:48
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    $\begingroup$ I would consider JHEP a theoretical physics rather than mathematical physics journal. ATMP is in between. If we stay within mathematically rigorous mathematical physics journals, then I think the order would be: 1) CMP 2) AHP, 3) JSP, 4) RMP etc. As for LMP it is very good but in the different category of journals for very short articles. $\endgroup$ Apr 18, 2017 at 20:32
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In probability, The Annals of Probability is certainly leading the field, probably along Probability Theory and Related Fields.

In fact, the leadership of The Annals of Probability is so strong that many probabilists seem to not even think of top generalist journal when they have a top result, and simply submit to The Annals of Probability papers that would have a shot at Inventiones and the like. At least, it is what some papers there made me think.

As noted by Martin Hairer, there are several other probability journals that are high level, though less universally considered on top of the field: Electronic Journal of/Communications in Probability (which is remarkable by being free for the authors as well as open for readers) and Annales de l'IHP: Probabilités et statistiques.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree that AoP and PTRF are usually considered the two top journals in probability, but EJP/ECP and Annals of IHP are also excellent probability journals. $\endgroup$ Aug 9, 2014 at 16:28
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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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    $\begingroup$ I would definitely disagree that DM is a top journal in discrete math, but maybe the picture is slightly different for enumerative combinatorics. $\endgroup$ Oct 20, 2010 at 20:53
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    $\begingroup$ 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. $\endgroup$ Oct 20, 2010 at 22:25
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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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    $\begingroup$ Num Math and Math Comp are more generalist; SIAM has several journals with different scopes, but all of them rank among the top ones. In particular, SIAM Review, which mostly publishes reviews and article of interest to a broad range of researchers, and has an impressive impact factor. $\endgroup$ Aug 8, 2014 at 20:33
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    $\begingroup$ Oh, and there's also Acta Numerica. $\endgroup$ Apr 18, 2017 at 13:18
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    $\begingroup$ I think SIAM Review is regarded quite highly. Moreover, Foundations of Computational Mathematics is probably higher in rank then all the journals listed by timur. Mathematics of Computation is overall a good journal but the quality of articles vary a lot. There is also IMA Journal of Numerical Analysis which in my biased ranking goes below of Math of Computation. As Federico said some SIAM journals like SIMAX also publishes numerics papers. $\endgroup$
    – alpx
    Dec 31, 2019 at 16:16
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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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    $\begingroup$ I think that the recent Journal of modern dynamics actually is on par with ETDS, don't you think? $\endgroup$ Aug 8, 2014 at 20:14
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    $\begingroup$ Judging by the papers published in ETDS and JMD, I definitely agree with Benoit. $\endgroup$
    – user39719
    Oct 11, 2014 at 18:11
  • $\begingroup$ what about DCDS i.e. discrete and continuous dynamical system? $\endgroup$
    – jason
    May 3, 2019 at 3:50
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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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    $\begingroup$ Note that the Compositio foundation launched a new open journal in algebraic geometry, which might aim at the level of JAG. $\endgroup$ Aug 31, 2014 at 20:01
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    $\begingroup$ do you really think that J Topology is at the level of JDG or G&T? my (limited) perception is that it is a little lower $\endgroup$
    – IMeasy
    Sep 1, 2014 at 6:58
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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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    $\begingroup$ 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?). $\endgroup$ Dec 28, 2009 at 11:45
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    $\begingroup$ Pete, how come your friend submitted to both journals? I thought it is not allowed? Could you explain further, this sounds interesting. $\endgroup$ Dec 28, 2009 at 15:08
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    $\begingroup$ @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.) $\endgroup$ Apr 25, 2011 at 23:11
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    $\begingroup$ @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). $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Apr 27, 2011 at 18:48
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    $\begingroup$ 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. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Feb 10, 2012 at 20:00
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Disclaimer: I am a founding editor of one of the journals listed here.

In the field of computational geometry, there are four specialized journals, that I would rank in this order:

  1. Discrete & Computational Geometry (DCG)
  2. Journal of Computational Geometry (JoCG)
  3. Computational Geometry: Theory and Applications (CGTA)
  4. International Journal of Computational Geometry and Applications (IJCGA)

I don't think anyone who works in the field would dispute the relative rankings of DCG, CGTA, and IJCGA.

JoCG is another story. It's a relatively new open-access journal, established in 2009. I place it second here because I think that's a fair estimate of how good a paper has to be in order to get accepted in JoCG. If you measure quality in other ways, you may rate it differently.

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    $\begingroup$ FWIW I have no affiliation with any of these four journals and I would give them the same ranking. $\endgroup$ Feb 11, 2015 at 18:02
  • $\begingroup$ I would also give them the same ranking. (Disclaimer: I am on the editorial boards of DCG and JOCG.) $\endgroup$
    – JeffE
    Feb 12, 2015 at 0:27
  • $\begingroup$ What about FOCM, Journal of Applied and Computational Topology, SIAM Journal on Applied Algebra and Goemetry; how would they do in your ranking for a computational geometry/topology person? $\endgroup$
    – alpx
    Dec 31, 2019 at 16:19
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In PDE and related analysis, there are a lot of good journal, among which the recent Analysis and PDE (by MSP, the publishers of Geometry & Topology) and the much older Archive for Rational mechanics and Analysis seem to stand on top. Also noticeable are Annales de l'IHP - analyse non linéaire, Communication on PDE, SIAM journal on mathematical analysis, and certainly other that I forget.

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(This would have been a comment but I do not have that privilege.)

I just want to ask if there's a significant difference in reputation between the Journal of Combinatorial Theory (JCT) series A and series B?

As far as I was aware the split is purely on subject area, e.g. enumerative combinatorics in A and graphs and matroids in B.

Scanning through the answers I saw JCT:A mentioned a couple of times but did not spot JCT:B being mentioned. Is there a feeling A is of a higher level?


Since I had to make this an answer, let me give, the obvious, answer for discrete geometry. The best subject specific journal in that area is Discrete and Computational Geometry.

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  • $\begingroup$ No one commented on this very old post! I would like to know the answer too. Do you know the answer now? $\endgroup$
    – nobody
    Oct 29, 2019 at 1:41
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    $\begingroup$ @justanothermathstudent I still believe, as I did when making the comment above, that JCT:A and JCT:B are at the same level, split only on topic. $\endgroup$
    – user62562
    Jan 12, 2020 at 19:19
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In the field of statistics, there used to be three journals that are tops:

  1. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series B
  2. The Annals of Mathematical Statistics. (Changed its name to "Annals of Statistics" since 1970s, each issue is like a history since you can see many different names with a couple of methods named after them.)
  3. Biometrika (due to the influence of Fisher-Pearson school)

Now there are "new three" with an emphasize in new-era machine learning interest:

  1. Journal of the American Statistical Association (due to the fact that many machine learning literatures are published on it, which is a good example of the drift of the trends in a branch of mathematics.)
  2. Annals of Statistics.
  3. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series B
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My view for Combinatorics : 1.The Electronic Journal of Combinatorics 2. JCTA and JCTB 3. European Journal of Combinatorics 4. Combinatorics, Probability, and Computing 5. Journal of Alg. combinatorics 6. Journal of Graph Theory 7. Combinatorica 8. Integers 9. Discrete math

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Many journals are named for their field...

Real Analysis Exchange

Journal of Functional Analysis

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    $\begingroup$ 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. $\endgroup$
    – Yemon Choi
    Oct 31, 2009 at 21:33
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    $\begingroup$ Yemon: you are right about the question. But the comparison of JFA and GAFA depends heavily on your research interest... $\endgroup$ Apr 25, 2011 at 22:43

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