Challenging ISI Thomson Scientific's Journal Citation Reports: Deconstructing "Objective", "Impact", and "Global"

Isagani Cruz

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The website ( of Thomson Scientific (formerly Thomson ISI) describes Journal Citation Reports as "the recognized authority for evaluating journals [that] presents quantifiable statistical data that provides a systematic, objective way to evaluate the world's leading journals and their impact and influence in the global research community." International surveys of universities, such as The Times Higher World University Rankings 2006, have taken ISI data as determinants of the quality of faculty and research. The criterion of being cited internationally, however, discriminates against outstanding research published in languages not generally understood internationally. A case in point is literary theory as practiced by Filipino critics. Written primarily in Filipino, critical articles published in Philippine academic journals represent, at several points, major advances in worldwide literary theory, but very few scholars, if any, outside the Philippines cite these articles because of unfamiliarity with the language. Translation would seem to be a logical step toward "globalization," as occurred with French and other European critics, but then, translators, rather than the critics or critical theories themselves, would determine the value of the criticism. As the writer has argued in several international forums, Filipino critics have read everything European and American critics have read, but European and American critics have not read everything Filipino critics have read. What kind of literary theory can come out of a reading that has historically not taken into account more than half of the world's literature? What kind of "objective" evaluation based on citations can be done if those doing the citing do not read articles not because they are unworthy of citation but because they are in lesser-known languages? A new way of evaluating such journals should be instituted not just by Thomson but by everyone interested in research.

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