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I apologize for a question that is not about mathematics, but I believe it is of interest to research mathematicians, and I believe there may be people on MathOverflow who can answer it objectively. If it is deemed unacceptable, I can survive.

For many years, I (and many others I know) have used a ranking of mathematics journals produced by the Australian Mathematical Society in 2009, formerly found here https://austms.org.au/Rankings/AustMS_final_ranked.html.

Without wishing to get into a debate on the usefulness or methodology of ranking journals, I found the list useful for judging what journals to submit papers to, and for justifying to deans or hiring committees the quality of journals that I or others (e.g. job, tenure applicants) have published in. I understand that it was getting out of date and I certainly did not agree with every grade there. But since it was made by mathematicians, rather than some trite formula, and since it used a simple A*/A/B/C grading scheme, it was solid and easy to reference and cite. For example, I planned to use it to help justify to deans an upcoming tenure decision.

It was also the top rated answer to this MO question about journal rankings. Unfortunately, the link above is now dead.

Question 1: Does anyone know if this ranking is permanently gone from the internet? If the society has "disavowed" it as incorrect or out of date? If they are revising it? Or if the link has simply changed?

I was able to find a "cached" version, so I still have access to the information. But I do not know how long this will be up, and it detracts from any semblance of authority if it is no longer hosted on a reputable website.

If this list is gone forever,

Question 2: Do people have suggestions for a replacement with similar features? (Made by a reputable institution, with input from mathematicians rather than a trite formula, and easy to explain to non-mathematicians.)

I understand that the second question has some overlap with the prior MO question linked above.

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    $\begingroup$ The article theconversation.com/… linked in the previous question seems to answer that this has been disavowed as out of date, and won't be replaced in any kind of similar form. $\endgroup$ – Will Sawin Aug 14 '20 at 17:54
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks. I understand the decision and don't wish to criticize them. The simple hosting of the old list was useful to me and others, and it would be nice to know if it is being scrubbed from the web. But given that, I suppose my question 2 is more salient at this point. I appreciate it. $\endgroup$ – anon Aug 14 '20 at 17:57
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    $\begingroup$ The Wayback machine does have an archived version. Besides general legal ambiguity, I think this is supposed to be a somewhat permanent secondary source. $\endgroup$ – R. van Dobben de Bruyn Aug 14 '20 at 17:59
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you R. van Dobben de Bruyn, that is also helpful. $\endgroup$ – anon Aug 14 '20 at 18:00
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    $\begingroup$ Some additional context : this ranking was done for all (reasonable) journals, at the behest of the Australian Research Council. Mathematicians complained that journal rankings are not as simple as people think and so (I think to shut us up) the AustMS got given the job of doing something reasonable using research community-sourced information. These rankings were for the purpose of 'grading' Australian universities' research output, and the whole exercise was abandoned after a few years (about a decade ago). $\endgroup$ – David Roberts Aug 14 '20 at 23:22
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There are several sources online that rank math journals by impact factor (and, this comes from a professor's webpage) or journal citation reports. However, it is important to realize that impact factor is a highly unstable metric, as discussed here.

Thomson Reuters has a list ranking by JCR, which appears to now be behind a paywall called InCites (though you might be able to access it through your library). If I remember correctly there was also an option to rank by impact factor.

The Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) is another source that maintains a database. And there's Scimago mentioned by Yemon. And you can look up impact factors over the years at bioxbio.com.

Another ranking by impact factor was SciJournal.org, but their website also appears to be down. A general way to solve the issue of disappearing website is the WayBack machine. For SciJournal, here is a recent snapshot from 2020. For the Australian list, here is a July, 2020 snapshot. In the same spirit as the Australian list, I am aware of a Chilean list that breaks journals into categories such as "Muy Buena," "Buena," and "aceptable" (I'm not sure if this is actually the third category). I've heard that this breakdown is not super well-regarded.

Lastly, an alternative to impact factor, that I've read about but have not yet looked into, is scite.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you, I appreciate your taking time to compile this list. It is versatile and I did not know about many of these. It seems that none of these satisfy my desire that the list not be simply based on citation statistics, but there is apparently no other such thing (except perhaps the Chilean one you mention unfavorably.) $\endgroup$ – anon Aug 14 '20 at 21:32
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    $\begingroup$ Impact factor is a terrible metric, and in experimental sciences has been shown to be positively correlated with retractions, and there is no correlation between IF and statistical power (which indicates studies with good evidence) Source: bjoern.brembs.net/2016/01/…. One should also look at the International Mathematical Union's position on citation metrics: mathunion.org/fileadmin/IMU/Report/CitationStatistics.pdf $\endgroup$ – David Roberts Aug 15 '20 at 2:10
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    $\begingroup$ One neat alternative to impact factor for slower moving fields like mathematics is the normalised lifetime impact factor described in this answer. (It uses Acta as a baseline to normalise for differences in overall research output throughout recent history in order to produce outcomes independent of age of a journal.) This is just one example with its own flaws, but it shows that alternatives exist, and we could be thinking about even better systems. $\endgroup$ – R. van Dobben de Bruyn Aug 16 '20 at 1:36
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    $\begingroup$ @R.vanDobbendeBruyn yes, if only to prove to university administrators that one's article published in Annals of Mathematics is really that much better than one's colleague's article published in Mathematische Annalen. $\endgroup$ – David Roberts Aug 16 '20 at 1:47
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    $\begingroup$ @Yemon in the other direction, my faculty (Engineering + Comp Sci + Maths) recently singled out a paper I published as being high-impact and praised it up, when it was not much more than a bunch of uncomplicated long exact sequence calculations in a physics context. The only reason I could guess is that the IF of the journal (a physics journal) is higher than the IF of basically every other maths journal, so I think they'd normalised IF by field of research, then found I was top of the pack? $\endgroup$ – David Roberts Aug 18 '20 at 4:21
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This should perhaps be a comment rather than an answer, but I thought I should post it so that others can offer corrections or further detail.

One of my colleagues has sometimes justified his opinions/suggestions to me with references to the Scimago journal rankings in mathematics:

https://www.scimagojr.com/journalrank.php?area=2600&type=j

Unfortunately I don't know if these rankings carry the appropriate "weight" in the eyes of deans and similar creatures. (I also don't know about accuracy, but your post suggests that this is not really the main issue which you want to address; the ranking puts JAMS at number 3 and Annals at number 4, for what it's worth.)

There's a lot of finer-grained detail one can extract from this database, by selecting a particular country or a particular area of mathematics.


Some information which may be of interest to readers other than the OP For background on this ranking or system of metrics, see https://www.scimagojr.com/aboutus.php

The SJR number is described in technical detail https://www.scimagojr.com/files/SJR2.pdf and it appears to be a metric based on a version of the Google PageRank algorithm: some "alt text" on the webpage claims tha the SJR number

... expresses the average number of weighted citations received in the selected year by the documents published in the journal in the last three years.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks, this is another option. I am of course concerned with "accuracy" too, hence my preference for a ranking or grading that is based on the opinions of real live mathematicians, rather than just citation statistics, which we all know are manipulable, vary by sub-discipline, and tell an incomplete story (though I guess SciMago makes an attempt to correct for some of these issues). I appreciate your adding this response. It may be that there is no good response to my Question 2, and that this is the best available. I will wait to see what others say, and if nothing better, I will accept. $\endgroup$ – anon Aug 14 '20 at 18:29
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    $\begingroup$ Understood -- to some extent, my answer was just meant to get the ball rolling. My experience has been that sometimes the best prompt for a mathematician to give a good answer is for them to see someone else give what they think is a poor answer :) $\endgroup$ – Yemon Choi Aug 14 '20 at 18:45
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    $\begingroup$ For what it's worth, I have had papers rejected by journals only for the same paper get accepted by a journal higher up on SJR. $\endgroup$ – Stanley Yao Xiao Aug 14 '20 at 19:15
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The system officially used in Finland is Jufo. It has four grades in the ranking, from 0 (lowest) to 3 (highest). The funding of Finnish universities partly depends on the amount of publications in those journals, with coefficients per publication being 0.1 - 1 - 3 - 4 (i.e., a publication in a level 3 journal is worth 4 publications in a level 1 journal, and 40 publications in a level 0 one.)

The ranks are re-allocated every 5 years by a committee based on suggestions from the academics; also there are some constraints (if one journal goes up, some other has to go down). This naturally creates some distortions, e. g., a new strong journal will lag in ranking, which means that nobody has incentive to publish there, which means nobody will be strongly pushing to move it up the ranking etc. For example, "Forum of mathematics, Pi" is only level 1. But other than that, the ranking is reasonable.

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I think all the other questions have been answered. The reason the link you posted is now dead is that the Australian Mathematical Society updated its (very old) website recently. Yes, you can find this link on web.archive.org. For what it's worth, your link is the 2008 list. The 2010 list, the final edition of the ERA rankings, can be found here http://www-users.math.umn.edu/~arnold//math-journal-ratings/ - this is "only" 10 years out of date rather than 12.

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