Beyond rankings: Using cognitive mapping to understand what health care journals represent

Academic Article


  • Studies of journal ratings are often controversial. Indices, including impact factors, acceptance rates, expert opinions, and ratings of knowledge, relevance, and quality have been used to organize journals hierarchically. While there may be some validity in consensus rankings, it is unclear what purpose is actually achieved by these endeavors. Impact factors probably help researchers identify authoritative journals, but other rankings likely indicate little more than institutionalized perceptions of prestige. Ranking schema used to derive evaluative judgments do not provide information about the organization of journals from the perspective of substantive content, emphasis, or targeted audience. A cognitive mapping approach that examines how health care management faculty members represent their perceptions of North American health care-oriented journals is presented as an alternative. A card-sort task and importance rating scale was mailed to faculty of North American health management programs who participated in a previous journal ranking study conducted by the authors. Completed assessments were returned from 147 respondents for a response rate of 39%. Multidimensional scaling and hierarchical cluster analyses of data provided a three-dimensional, seven cluster map that illustrates the perceived similarities of journals. Dimension I contrasts Applied Management Practice with Health Policy journals. Dimension II contrasts specific domain with broad-based research journals. Dimension III contrasts finance-oriented with delivery-oriented journals. The seven clusters of perceptually similar journals were weighted in terms of respondent defined importance ascribed to each journal within a cluster. This framework supplements ratings by providing insight about how journals are cognitively organized by scholars. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Shewchuk RM; O'Connor SJ; Williams ES; Savage GT
  • Start Page

  • 1192
  • End Page

  • 1204
  • Volume

  • 62
  • Issue

  • 5