In September of 2009 I wrote to a bunch of colleagues with a proposal: let’s launch a journal that specializes in mathematical history. The great majority responded very positively, and we published the first issue of the journal in December of 2010. We are now in the sixth year of the journal.
Initially the subtitle of Cliodynamics was A Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical History, but last year the board of editors unanimously approved broadening the subtitle to A Journal of Quantitative History and Cultural Evolution.
As soon as we launched the journal, registering it with an indexing and abstracting service became a high priority. As one site puts it,
To be recognized as an authoritative, high-quality source of information, a journal must be widely available. Indexing and abstracting services facilitate the broadest dissemination of information by pointing researchers to articles that are relevant to the field. Once a journal is launched and has a track record of timely publication and solid content, it is appropriate to contact indexing and abstracting services for consideration.
In reality, indexing services are a relic of the old days when journals were printed on actual paper. Although I continue buying and reading real books, I’ve stopped reading printed journals many years ago. I now read articles only online, or on screen. The days when I had to sieve through weighty tomes full of fine-print abstracts are, thankfully, long gone. I now find articles through the web, using such services as Google Scholar.
Indexing services now have only one function: they stamp a seal of approval on a scientific journal, separating authoritative publications from the fake ones. At least that’s the theory; the system has been gamed.
So what this means is that we have to play the game.
Initially my plan was to get indexed by the ISI Web of Science, because it was the most prestigious, “credentialing” service back in those days when I was active as editor of an ecological journal. We dutifully waited three years and submitted our journal to the ISI – and were completely ignored. Repeated e-mails did not result in any responses.
Meanwhile, my university decided to discontinue its association with the ISI. The reason was that they wanted way too much money. Is this another case of greedy for-profit publishers?
My university then replaced Web of Science with Scopus. Scopus has been getting generally good reviews, so last year we applied to register Cliodynamics with them. Again, it took repeated e-mails and more than a year, but at least this time we got a response—and it was a positive one. Here’s what the reviewer of our journal wrote:
Cliodynamics is probably (one of) the world’s leading journals of quantitative history and social change. The authors and editorial board are mainly leading world-class scholars, and the papers, while sometimes difficult to follow, are absolutely first rate. Indeed, I was surprised to see this journal pop up on my assessment list; I would have assumed it had been a Scopus journal for years. In any case, it is my pleasure to welcome Cliodynamics to the Scopus family of leading scientific journals.
Indeed, it is our pleasure to join Scopus.
Notes on the margin: the next issue of Cliodynamics is progressing very well – look for it to be published in December!