Last Friday I went to a editor day at Emerald Publishing; one of the few perks of the job that I get for editing the Journal of Documentation. I’m not sure what the collective noun for editors is, but there were certainly a lot of us there; more from Emerald’s business and management journals than from the library/information side. So numerous were the latter, that it was easy to forget that Emerald are easily the biggest publisher of LIS journals, and with the acquisition of several LIS book series from Academic Press taking over a large chunk of the monograph business as well.
The new Emerald offices at Bingley in West Yorkshire are suitably modern and businesslike, if lacking some of the Victorian-millowner-chic of their former Bradford base.
Discussions through the day covered a remarkably wide set of topics, but often came back the question of how a journal’s quality is to be measured; a obsession for everyone in these league-table-haunted days. Everyone agreed that the usual bibliometric measures – impact factors, h-indexes, and the like – were crucial, but rather limited, particular for a publisher like Emerald with many ‘practitioner’ journals. How do we measure the success of a journal’s content in promoting improved practice, and in contributing to the development of society ? Tricky questions. Just about the same as measuring the ‘real impact’ of libraries and information services, which is a different, though very closely related, story.