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Tuesday, October 17, 2017


80th Annual Meeting of the VHB

May 23-25, 2017

Magdeburg, Germany

Comments on Using VHB Jourqual Responsibly

Dear Association Members,


I am delighted to announce the arrival of the results of the VHB JOURQUAL 2.1, which were compiled by our colleagues Hennig-Thurau (Münster) and Sattler (Hamburg) in co-ordination with the JOURQUAL Advisory Board and the Association’s Executive Board. I would also like to take this opportunity to make some personal comments on the rankings.       


For a number of years now, it has — as many association members wanted — been possible to rank business studies journals using VHB JOURQUAL, including those not featured in other available rankings, which has considerably improved the possibilities of assessing the quality of journals. JOURQUAL has thus become a valuable aid for business studies as a science in the competition with other disciplines for scarce funding. Recently, the opportunity presented itself for a significant proportion of our association members, Messrs Hennig-Thurgau and Sattler, and the VHB Executive Board to update of the ranking’s journal base in the short run (JOURQUAL 2.1) and refine JOURQUAL methodically for the next full survey (JOURQUAL 3).        


The JOURQUAL 2.1 now available is also designed to cover journals that were not featured in the previous version, including journals that have recently been launched or have become increasingly important since the last survey. The methodology used for this ranking echoes that of JOURQUAL 2 (cf. Schrader/Hennig-Thurau, Business Research 2009, 2 (2), pp. 180-204).   


To coincide with the updated rankings, I would like to stress the importance of using them in a responsible and well-thought-out manner, especially in the case of scientists’ personal performance evaluations. Rankings cannot and should not be a substitute for reading the individual publications — especially where evaluations of the research of individuals are concerned. Any evaluation of research work with recourse to standardized procedures and average values involves simplifications and thus a narrow perspective. This is already evident, for instance, in the fact that some papers are published in journals outside the mainstream and not covered sufficiently by a ranking. As a result, journal rankings can only support the evaluation process by providing indications of the average quality of the publications in particular journals. A responsible evaluation of journal publications cannot be made through mechanical, automated tallies based on rankings, but rather requires a differentiated use of rankings.     


JOURQUAL helps assess the quality of journals in our subject and is particularly a useful aid for non-specialists in evaluating research work — no more, no less. In the specialist journal field, at least, the ranking can help reduce distortions by other rankings which to some extent cover the research areas and relevant journals of our members poorly. Of course, this does not exclude including rankings with different methodological approaches in the evaluation of research work published in journals as an aid.       


The ranking refers exclusively to publications in journals. Another part of business research is published in other media, such as monographs, or appears in the development of prototypes. This research work is not covered by JOURQUAL, however, and thus not evaluated. The same goes for other work by scientists, such as teaching, and services in self-management and for the researcher community. For these reasons, the VHB Executive Board deliberately declared itself against a person ranking based on journal rankings, a stance which remains unchanged.


The Association will provide you, as mentioned above, with a methodically revised version of the rankings in the form of JOURQUAL 3. We would formally like to invite you to put forward proposals for JOURQUAL 3 for discussion with the JOURQUAL management (colleagues Hennig-Thurau and Sattler), the JOURQUAL Advisory Board and the Association’s Executive Board. Finally, the VHB will also be organizing symposia on the topic at our Whitsun conferences in the future to encourage a broad discussion, develop JOURQUAL further on this basis and keep the members abreast of current developments regarding JOURQUAL.      


Kind regards


Prof. Caren Sureth, Chairwoman