Quality of ISJ

The Editors strive to maintain the highest quality of papers and, over the years, the ISJ has become known as a high quality information systems journal recognised throughout the world. This has been achieved by a rigorous review process (see Reviewing Process), a Panel of exceptional reviewers (over 150 international experts), an Editorial Board composed of top international researchers, which together has generated high quality submissions resulting in an excellent journal. A virtuous circle that we are keen to maintain!

The ISJ is published by Wiley who have supported the journal with enthusiasm over the years with a record of subscription growth every year since its establishment.

One of the top journals in the IS field
The AIS (Association for Information Systems) has announced a ‘basket’ of eight top journals in the IS field which includes ISJ. This list has been prepared by the ‘Senior Scholars’ of AIS. See the AIS website for details here.

An international journal
The ISJ strapline, states that ISJ is “an international journal promoting the study and practice of information systems”. The claim to be an ‘international’ journal is easily made by many IS journals but in our case it is substantiated and indeed ISJ is the most ‘international’ of leading IS journals. This means that it does not just publish research relating to that predominant in one geographic or cultural area. The ISJ originated in the UK but was always highly international in its outlook, including its Editors, Editorial Board and the origin of papers that it publishes. It still attracts a significant number of submissions from the UK, but these are equalled by the submissions from the rest of Europe, the US, and the rest of the world. In the more recent issues, 29% of papers were from North America, 16% from Asia-Pacific, 17% from continental Europe and 38% from the UK. The study by Galliers and Meadows (2003), see below, clearly substantiates ISJ as a truly international IS journal.

Impact Factor
The impact factor of a journal is a measure of the frequency with which the “average article” in a journal has been cited in a particular year.

Year 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
ISJ Impact Factor 0.375 0.250 0.226 0.516 0.559 1.543 1.531 2.375 1.419 2.184 2.067 1.381 1.381 1.333 1.766 2.522

Impact factors are somewhat difficult to interpret, and as can be seen, they can and do fluctuate. Most publishers suggest that the impact factor can only be established over a significant number of years and that it should be treated carefully and used only as a guide and certainly not as the sole indicator of a journals impact or quality. However, many appear to ignore this advice. The following should be borne in mind when reviewing impact factors:

– citation does not necessarily imply high quality, a work may be heavily cited because citing authors are refuting the research findings it contains.
– there is often citation bias, for example authors may cite their own work, or work just from the journals in which they publish.
– an impact factor is a measure of average citation impact, not individual citation impact, so an impact factor should not be used to measure the performance of an individual paper.
– not all research work is published and cited in the citation indices: conference proceedings, for example are often poorly covered.
– there is a bias in favour of English language material on citation indices.

* The impact figures for the year are usually made available by ISI in late June of the following year to which they refer. For example, the 2015 figure was released at the end of June 2016 by ISI Web of Knowledge.

We are often asked about the ranking of the ISJ in relation to other IS journals and clearly this is an issue which increasingly exercises people. In the UK the Research Evaluation Framework (REF) has made the ranking of output and journals increasingly important. In the US they have always been important, particularly in relation to tenure and promotion decisions. As a result they also exercise authors and potential authors.

However, journal rankings are a very inexact science. The various rankings that have been undertaken are conducted by individuals, usually involving some kind of peer ranking by some members of the IS community. In our opinion they do not stand up particularly well to scrutiny, especially in relation to sampling and bias. That is not to say they are not useful, just that they should be treated with caution.

In relation to ranking it might be important to know how many IS journals there are – and it appears there are a surprising number. One very useful site is that of John Lamp (see below) which provides basic information about, and links to, IS journals, as well as listing some useful papers that analyse and discuss rankings. John Lamp lists over 800 active IS (and closely related) journals (2014). From this site we learn that ISJ is ranked as A* by ACPHIS (Australian Council of Professors and Heads of Information Systems) and also by ABDC (The Australian Business Deans’ Council). Another useful resource in relation to journal rankings is provided by AIS – see here.

ISJ is included in the influential ‘basket’ of 6 top information systems journals in the field, identified by the AIS (Association of Information Systems) Senior Scholars – see above.

ISWorld provide a comparison table of six articles that have undertaken IS journal ranking studies. In one of these studies (Whitman, et al. 1999) the ISJ was ranked 16th out of 80 journals and the respondents in this survey were from 112 AACSB (American Association for Collegiate Schools of Business) accredited institutions. This placed the ISJ as the highest ranked non-US journal. Another of the studies ranked the ISJ 15th, and it was not part of the other four studies.

More recent surveys also place ISJ highly. Peffers and Ya (2003), for example, placed ISJ 10th in the list of journals (ranked by total weighted perceived value) as an outlet for information systems research. A more thoughtful than usual study by Lowry, Romans and Curtis (2003) rated ISJ 13th in the World. In North America it was ranked 21st, again the highest non-US IS journal. A classification of IS journals conducted by Roger Clarke classifies the ISJ as an ‘A Level Journal’.

We believe that these studies indicate a very positive view of the ISJ, particularly given that such surveys are typically US based and involve predominantly US respondents. For the ISJ to do well in terms of predominantly US rankings is gratifying because of the well known difficulties of making an impact on the US IS community from outside the US. Again our caveats about such rankings must be applied but neverless it again ranks ISJ as one of the high quality, well perceived, information systems journals internationally.

Another strong indication of the quality of the ISJ is found in a study undertaken by Galliers and Meadows (2003) of four ‘leading IS journals’ (Information Systems Research, MIS Quarterly, Journal of Strategic Information Systems and ISJ). The ISJ, despite its UK origins, clearly came out as much more international in terms of its Editorial Board, authors, and journals cited, than the US journals and to a lesser extent JSIS. The authors concluded that there exists clear ‘parochialism’ in, for example, the literature that these other journals draw on to inform the research efforts, and in their publication patterns! One finding (not really a surprise given what has been said above) was the very low number of European authors getting published in the two US journals (ISR and MISQ), which in the period of the study 1994-2000, was only 2% and 5% respectively. A clear indication that authors need to be very careful in their selection of journal targets for their papers.

Author Experiences of ISJ
A study by Bhattacharjee, et al. (2004) of author experiences of the review process ranked ISJ very highly in all categories. ISJ was ranked 3rd, out of 39 journals, for the ‘Quality of its Reviews’, actually 1st out of the IS journals! It was ranked 1st overall for the ‘Responsiveness of its Editorial Office’ and ISJ was found to be 7th out of 39 for the time papers spent in the review process, with an average for first reviews of 3.4 months and 2.8 for second rounds of reviews. These figures are around half of the average of all the journals and significantly better than some other competitor journals where papers spent over 18 months in the review process, on average. Thanks are due to all associated with ISJ for achieving these excellent results, particularly our reviewers and Carolyn in the Editorial Office. Once again, and although ISJ came out extremely well in this study, we urge people to treat all such surveys with some caution.

In the UK RAE (2008) the LIM (Library and Information Management) and Business and Management Panels regarded publications in ISJ highly and as an indication of international quality, and this continues for the 2014 REF (Research Evaluation Framework).

The ISJ is Indexed/Abstracted in:
Computer Abstracts
Computer Science Index
Current Contents
Educational Management Abstracts
Educational Research Abstracts online
Educational Technology Abstracts
Emerald Management Reviews (online)
Ergonomics Abstracts Online
Multicultural Education Abstracts (Print)
Research into Higher Education Abstracts
Social Sciences Citation Index
Sociology of Education Abstracts
Special Educational Needs Abstracts
Technical Education and Training Abstracts
ISJ is also listed in Cabell’s Directory of Publishing Opportunities in Management indicating a journal of quality.


Bhattacharjee, S., Tung, Y.A. and Pathak, B. (2004) Author Experiences with the IS Journal Review Process, Communications of the Association of Information Systems, Vol 13, pp629-653.

Clarke, R (1995) Information Systems Publications: A classification, available at http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/ISRes/INFSRefs.html

Galliers, R.G. and Meadows, M. A (2003) Discipline Divided: Globalization and Parochialism in Information Systems Research Communications of the AIS , Vol. 11, No. 5, 2003.

Lamp, J. W. (2004). Index of Information Systems Journals. Geelong, Deakin University. [Online] Available: http://lamp.infosys.deakin.edu.au/journals/

Lowry, P.B., Romans, D. and Curtis, A. (2004) Global Journal Prestige and Supporting Disciplines: A Scientometric Study of Information Systems Journals, Journal of the Association of Information Systems, Vol 5, No 2, pp29-77.

Peffers, K. and Ya, T. (2003) Identifying and evaluating the universe of outlets for information systems research: Ranking the journals, JITTA Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application, Vol. 5, No. 1.

Whitman, M., Hendrickson, A. and Townsend, A. (1999) Research Commentary. Academic Rewards for Teaching, Research and service: Data and Discourse, Information Systems Research, Vol. 10, No. 2, 99-109.