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Journal list fetishism and the 'sign of 4' in the ABS guide: A question of trust?

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Simon Hussain



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


The emergence of journal quality lists such as that issued by the UK’s Association of Business Schools (ABS) has instigated a wave of ‘journal list fetishism’ throughout the business school sector. Business school deans and research managers have become fixated on whether the publication records of current staff and new applicants include the requisite number of ‘hits’ in the best ranked journals. Little attention is paid to additional measures of research quality, or to the broader context within which the research has been produced. This paper examines the current fetishizing of the ABS guide in general, and the magical ‘4’ rating in particular (the symbolic token for top journals). It begins by looking at how ‘trust in numbers’ may have assisted the uptake of the ABS guide through developing a perception of ‘trustworthiness’ and then raises questions regarding the current fetishizing of ‘4’ ratings using additional data within the ABS guide.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hussain S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Organization

Year: 2015

Volume: 22

Issue: 1

Pages: 119-138

Print publication date: 01/01/2015

Online publication date: 20/10/2013

Date deposited: 15/06/2016

ISSN (print): 1350-5084

ISSN (electronic): 1461-7323

Publisher: Sage


DOI: 10.1177/1350508413506763


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