Re: Number of scholarly journals in the world.

From: Couture Marc <couture.marc_at_TELUQ.UQAM.CA>
Date: Sun, 16 Aug 2009 11:11:32 -0400

On August 4, 2009, Jean-Claude Guédon wrote:

> A 721-page list of social science and humanities journals comprising around 20,000 titles has been compiled.
> This list is limited to SSH journals

I downloaded and examined the 721-page document compiled by JournalBase and available at

One looks forward getting access to the database (as promised by the authors) instead of a huge text-based table, but one can readily draw some conclusions upon simple inspection:

- The number of entries stated by Jean-Claude and given on the Web page (20 000) would mean an average of 27 titles per page. One can easily verify that the actual number is much lower. In fact, based upon a 15-page sample, I obtained an average of 12 different titles per page, for a total of the order of 9 000 titles (still quite a large number). One indeed obtains an average of about 30 when one includes the multiple entries one finds for most journals (one entry for each category, plus some journals appearing twice).

- Although this is a fairly intuitive conclusion, the list appears indeed to comprise mostly peer-reviewed journals.

- Although the authors indicate that the list "includes the information on open access journals indexed in the DOAJ", JournalBase features only 350 DOAJ journals, while one can estimate the number of social science journals in DOAJ to be more in the range 700-900 (depending upon the way one defines an SSH journal, and interprets the keywords and categories in DOAJ lists). It seems that they didn't use DOAJ as a source for journal titles (and DOAJ is not listed in the "Sources" column), but used it to check the OA status of the journals they found in other lists (Scopus, etc.).

More data and analyses are thus needed to get a reliable estimate of the percentage of OA scholarly journals. One gets 17% if one uses DOAJ's and Ulrich's data (4000 OA journals over a total of 24 000), but only 4% with JournalBase data. Although the ratio for SSH journals could well be lower than the overall ratio, I don't think we should but too much emphasis on either figure.

Marc Couture
Télé-université (Université du Québec à Montréal)
Received on Mon Aug 17 2009 - 03:41:25 BST

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