Christopher Kelty on...
And on this topic, Peter Suber’s recent thoughts on prestige are very accurate:
I think this is exactly on target: journals serve a branding function, and a needed one. They are filters for what people will read first, and the reputation of a journal is a proxy for the confidence people have in the scholarship it publishes (which is imperfectly captured by the so-called “impact factor”).
What we don’t have ways to talk about are the various levels of that confidence. There is much more going on that a simple good/bad or science/not science decision. Ask any anthropologist and they will have a vague and inarticulable sense of which journals are better and worse, and which serve what audiences… but ask anyone outside the field and it’s a crapshoot. They have to ask an anthropologist (or more often make assumptions about what journals publish quality stuff). So I think it’s a given that what people are looking for are insight, of a sort, and that part of this is the work of the editors more than the authors… but we don’t have a system for communicating that insight beyond the organic quasi-formal discussions taking place in hallways and conference-rooms.