Aiming for Abstracts

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The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (JARS) just completed its seventh year of publication. When the journal was first published, we knew we had our work cut out for us. We were the first interdisciplinary scholarly periodical ever established as a forum for the critical discussion of Ayn Rand’s ideas. But one of the most important achievements of any academic journal is its ability to be added to the indices of established abstracting services. This is a way of gaining “acceptance” in the scholarly marketplace, of bolstering a journal’s reputation as an organ of serious discussion and contributing to the idea that its subject is worthy of such discussion.

In its first few years of operation, JARS was able to add over a dozen of these services in the social sciences and humanities. Coverage in such indices has facilitated the expansion of JARS citations, and, by consequence, Rand references, within the global marketplace of academic scholarship.

It has been an uphill battle to get JARS added to three of the most prestigious indices: the Arts & Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI), Current Contents/Arts & Humanities (CCA&H), and the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI). Some years ago, we approached those organizations (each of them a subsidiary of Thomson Scientific) with the requisite three consecutive issues in the hopes that they would add JARS to their lists of the world’s leading journals. The first three-issue review failed; JARS was still too young to join the global ranks.

Another concern was expressed by some involved in classical liberal or libertarian scholarship: does SSCI operate according to a left-wing ideological bias? That was one of the points of a 2004 “Econ Journal Watch” essay by my friend and colleague Daniel B. Klein (with Eric Chiang). Klein found that of all the journals centering on classical liberal or libertarian scholarship, only “Critical Review” was indexed by SSCI. But, as Klein suggests, “Critical Review” publishes lots of material that is actually critical of classical liberalism; it is a core journal abstracted in “The Left Index.”

Well, in retrospect, maybe that was one of the linchpins of the JARS strategy. Because JARS is a self-identified “non- partisan” scholarly periodical, because we have been willing to publish papers with both left- and right-wing perspectives on Rand, we too gained acceptance into the pages of “The Left Index” and even “Women’s Studies International.” I have no idea whether this helped us with the most recent rigorous Thomson Scientific review process, but JARS was indeed finally selected for full coverage in A&HCI and CCA&H. Abstracts of relevant journal articles centered on the social sciences (economics, political science, psychology, etc.) will also be selectively included in SSCI. I’m delighted that JARS is finally among the journals selected for coverage in these important indices, whatever their alleged ideological biases.

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