Based on a talk presented at the UKSG seminar ‘Measure for Measure, or Much Ado About Nothing? Measuring the quality and value of online journals’, London, Thursday 14 June 2007
This article is concerned with the role and evaluation of journals in the arts. It examines the very distinctive ways in which journal publication in this area compares with the sciences and explains these through the diversity of research outputs and the distinctiveness of citation practice. It draws on data about publishing habits in arts and humanities disciplines, showing that peer-reviewed journals are not the self-evident location of choice that they are in the sciences. Furthermore, it is very difficult to construct hierarchies of journal impact and quality, in part because of the quite different cultures of citation. Nevertheless, the search for proxies for the quality of research will continue, and various current projects engage in one way or another with journals.The article concludes by briefly looking at some of these and considers the ways each engages with journals.