Scientific journals still matter in the era of academic search engines and preprint archives - Kim - 2020 - Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology - Wiley Online Library
peter.suber's bookmarks 2022-01-11
Abstract: Journals play a critical role in the scientific process because they evaluate the quality of incoming papers and offer an organizing filter for search. However, the role of journals has been called into question because new preprint archives and academic search engines make it easier to find articles independent of the journals that publish them. Research on this issue is complicated by the deeply confounded relationship between article quality and journal reputation. We present an innovative proxy for individual article quality that is divorced from the journal's reputation or impact factor: the number of citations to preprints posted on arXiv.org. Using this measure to study three subfields of physics that were early adopters of arXiv, we show that prior estimates of the effect of journal reputation on an individual article's impact (measured by citations) are likely inflated. While we find that higher-quality preprints in these subfields are now less likely to be published in journals compared to prior years, we find little systematic evidence that the role of journal reputation on article performance has declined.