The ghost of rankings past: The lasting harmful impact of journal rankings, and what we should do instead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch


A journal ranking exercise took place in 2008–2010. It tried to produce a journal ranking list with international scope and validity. It failed.
The urge to rank — and to use ranking in the assessment of quality — appears to remain strong in Australian law schools. There is a risk this discredited process will be given new impetus by the latest Australian journal ranking list involving law, this time by the Australian Business Deans Council. Its list ranks 2,767 different journal titles, including selected law journals.
The authors believe rankings like these should be formally abandoned for a number of reasons. First, the ranking process is difficult, arbitrary and infected by subjective opinion. This leads to perverse outcomes for legal academics whose career advancement is tied to this uncertain standard. Secondly, the urge to rank is the product of a damaging misconception of the proper role of legal academics and the legal academy. Finally, in the brave new educational world, markets will provide surprisingly nuanced and rigorous measures of quality that cannot be captured in a crude ranking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-85
Number of pages15
JournalBond Law Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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