Going Beyond Impact Factors: A Survey-based Journal Ranking by Agricultural Economists


  • Roland Herrmann,

  • Ernst Berg,

  • Stephan Dabbert,

  • Siegfried Pöchtrager,

  • Klaus Salhofer

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    •  Roland Herrmann is with the Institute of Agricultural Policy and Market Research, University of Giessen, Germany. E-mail: Roland.Herrmann@agrar.uni-giessen.de for correspondence. Ernst Berg is with the Institute for Food and Resource Economics, University of Bonn, Germany. Stephan Dabbert is with the Department of Farm Management, University of Hohenheim, Germany. Siegfried Pöchtrager is with the Institute for Marketing and Innovation, BOKU, Vienna, Austria. Klaus Salhofer is with the Enviromental and Agricultural Policy Group, Technische Universitaet, Muenchen, Germany. We thank David Harvey and three anonymous referees for their very helpful and detailed comments and suggestions. Thanks are due to the Gesellschaft für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften des Landbaues e. V. (GEWISOLA) and Österreichische Gesellschaft für Agrarökonomie (ÖGA) for financial support and members of both associations for their participation in the survey. Very helpful research assistance by Marco Huigen, who edited the data in a data bank, and by Matthias Staudigel and Sascha Weber in the statistical analysis is greatly appreciated.


A consistent and comprehensive ranking of journals relevant for agricultural economists cannot rely on impact factors for at least two major reasons: (i) the scientific database by Thomson Reuters, on which the standard impact factor is based, includes only a very limited number of relevant journals; (ii) the standard impact factor cannot be compared across research fields of different sizes. Survey-based journal rankings may overcome these problems. We report on such a survey-based ranking initiated by the Agricultural Economics Associations of Germany and Austria. Results of the ranking and a classification of journals, i.e. a rating, are provided for 160 selected journals. Scientific quality is assessed by an index based on the researchers’ perception of the quality standards of each journal and of the quality of its published articles. The survey-based ranking allows a much more comprehensive and consistent ranking than the impact factor, as specific agricultural economics journals can be directly compared with neighbouring economic and interdisciplinary journals to which agricultural economists submit their work. The low impact factors of core agricultural economics journals are put into perspective. The scientific quality of the top agricultural economics journals is assessed as being rather high and above most of the relevant interdisciplinary journals from agricultural and food sciences that are typically characterised by higher impact factors. Agricultural economists’ perceptions on the scientific quality of the journals vary more across journals than perceptions of their relevance.