Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Monday, September 29, 2014

University ranks 2nd in faculty research in 4 top public administration journals

Susan Yackee Susan Yackee

A second international study gives the University of Wisconsin–Madison high marks for the quality of its faculty research in public administration.

The worldwide comparison ranks the campus 2nd for the articles faculty publish in the four “top” public administration journals for 2009 to 2013. The new study is forthcoming in an article in the International Public Management Journal.

“This ranking and the one published recently in the Journal of Public Affairs Education demonstrate that our faculty are productive and placing their work in the very best journals,” says La Follette School director Susan Yackee. “This productivity means our students are at the vanguard of the technical skills and theory they learn in our classrooms as our faculty integrate their findings into their lectures and assignments.”

The top four journals in the ranking are Public Administration Review, Public Administration, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, and the Journal of Public Analysis and Management.The ranking of 2nd is based on the number of articles found in the Web of Science’s Social Science Citation Index. Only the University of Georgia ranked ahead of UW–Madison.

The IPMJ analysis outlines four additional alternatives for ranking universities according to the articles their faculty publish in “good” journals from 2009 to 2013. The authors note that the rankings vary according to the definition of a good journal and a good article.

Two of the authors’ rankings alternatives are also based on Web of Science’s Social Science Citation Index and its measurement of “impact factor.” Impact factor measures the number of times authors cited articles from the journal in the past two years, adjusted for the number of articles a journal publishes. Citations of published research are key indicators of the influence of scholarly work. The IPMJauthors ranked universities based on the number of articles their faculty published in journals that had impact factors in 2006 and 2012. UW–Madison placed 9th in the ranking based on the 2006 SSCI journal list and 16th on the 2012 list of journals. The ranking based on the 2012 list includes more articles and more journals (international and domestic) than the 2006 list and thus includes more universities outside the United States — only eight on the 2012 list are U.S. campuses.

To rank universities for their output by the reputation of academic journals, the authors did two analyses with the Scopus bibliographic database to determine number articles each campus had in each journal. The study determines journal reputation based its definition in studies published in1994 and in 2010. The 1994 study surveyed editors and editorial board members of 36 public administration journals, and ranked the journals’ reputations accordingly. The 2010 study repeated that methodology with 39 journals. UW–Madison ranks 10th as the most-published institution on the 1994 list of journals and 11th on the 2010 list.

As with the Journal of Public Affairs Education analysis, UW–Madison placed ahead of its public affairs rivals such as Harvard University (Kennedy School of Government), University of Michigan (Ford School of Public Policy), and University of California, Berkeley (Goldman School of Public Policy).

“As the IPMJ authors note, a university’s ranking varies depending on the criteria used to define ‘publication in a good journal,’” Yackee says, “and the more the rankings weight or restrict to stronger journals, the better UW–Madison performs. Although quality is very hard to measure and we see great variance, we consistently rank very high across all the ways of measuring productivity and impact. We are pleased to see the excellent work by our faculty rank so high across all the public administration programs.”