Indicators, Rankings and the Political Economy of Academic Production in International Law
Leiden Journal of International Law
Rankings and indicators have been with us for a while now, and have increasingly been objects of attention in international law. Likewise, they have been with the LJIL as a journal for a while now. Our so-called 'impact factor' is, to my untrained eye, the most prominent feature on the LJIL webpage hosted by our publisher. So this editorial is something of a rearguard action. The indicators and rankings, however, keep piling up. Proliferation may afford a perverse sort of optimism, about which
... imism, about which below but, as will be clear, I do not share it. The increasing number and command of indicators and rankings reflects a consistent trend and a bleak mode of knowledge production. Knowledge production has been a topic in these pages recently, for instance Sara Kendall's excellent editorial on academic production and the politics of inclusion. I mean to continue in that vein, with respect to other aspects of the political economy of the academic production of international law, especially at a nexus of publishing, scholarship and market practices. There is an undeniable element of nostalgia in what will follow, but I do not really mean to celebrate the publishing industry, status quo ante, that has put me in this privileged position to wax nostalgic. The academic publishing business is flawed. What we are preparing the way for is worse. When I say we, I mean to flag my complicity, both as an individual researcher and as an editorial board member. I use the word complicity to convey a personal anxiety, also in my role as editor, so let me be clear: the LJIL board has no policy concerning rankings, and rankings have never influenced review at the journal. Moreover, while I cannot claim to speak for the LJIL as a whole concerning the topic of rankings or any other matter, nor is mine exactly a dissenting voice on the board. The tone of this polemic is mine alone; the concern is not.