Columbia International Affairs Online: Journals

CIAO DATE: 06/2009

Editors' Note

International Security

A publication of:
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University

Volume: 33, Issue: 4 (Spring 2009)


Full Text

Press Release

Spring 2009

We recently received the Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Reports 2007 rankings of more than fifty journals of international relations by Impact Factor. The Impact Factor measures the average number of citations in a year of articles published during the preceding two years. Thus a journal's 2007 Impact Factor is calculated by dividing the total number of citations in 2007 of articles published in that journal in 2005 and 2006 by the number of articles published over those two years. We were pleased to see that International Security tied with International Organization for the highest 2007 Impact Factor. IS ranked first in 1996, 1997, 2001, 2004, 2005, and 2006, and has been in the top five every year since 1995. Thomson Reuters also ranks journals by two other measures: Cited Half-Life, a measure of whether older articles are cited, and Immediacy Index, a measure of whether articles are often cited shortly after publication. We were particularly pleased to see that International Security's Cited Half-Life has almost tripled since 1996 and that IS consistently ranks in the top five international relations journals by this measure. IS also ranks highly for its Immediacy Index. The trend suggests that IS articles attract attention soon after publication and that they continue to be read and cited for many years. Given that the journal aspires to publish a mix of articles on policy-relevant theory, sophisticated policy analysis, and conceptual and theoretical aspects of international security, we are delighted that IS has an Immediacy Index comparable to journals of contemporary foreign policy and a Cited Half-Life similar to leading scholarly journals.

We are gratified that International Security articles are being cited frequently and for many years, but we recognize that we need to continue to take steps to improve the journal. We have noticed that reaching decisions on some manuscripts has taken longer than we would like, and we are aware that authors who submit their work to IS are especially concerned about this issue. The number of manuscripts received by International Security has increased by 50 percent since 2003. Although this is a welcome trend that reflects the health of the field of international security studies, the increase in the number of submissions has increasingly hampered our ability to make decisions on manuscripts as rapidly as we would like. We are therefore undertaking two initiatives. First, we have added a rotating group of five associate editors to the IS editorial team to assist in evaluating and to provide editorial advice. We are delighted to welcome Michael Desch, Lynn Eden, Peter Liberman, Kimberly Marten, and Daryl Press as the first group of associate editors. Second, International Security will begin using Editorial Manager, an editorial software system, to process manuscript submissions with greater efficiency and transparency. We hope that these steps will enable us to achieve our goal of reaching decisions on manuscripts within two months of their submission. We also will continue our policy of publishing most articles within four or five months of their acceptance, usually in the next issue published after they have been accepted. In addition, we are pleased to announce that Stephen Biddle, Page Fortna, Dan Reiter, and Scott Sagan have accepted invitations to join the journal's Editorial Board. Finally, we recognize the need to expand our list of external reviewers to help evaluate the increasing number of submissions. We therefore invite anyone who would like to be added to the journal's list of external reviewers to send us ( a curriculum vitae and a list of areas of interest and expertise.

We believe that these changes will enable IS to operate more efficiently as the amount of promising scholarship in the field of international security studies continues to grow. Our fundamental objectives have not changed: As the editors promised in the journal's first issue, IS will continue to publish articles on all aspects of security affairs, "with particular emphasis on the use, threat, and control of force" and to offer "a combination of professional and policy-relevant articles" that "will contribute to the disciplined discourse that distinguishes a profession."

-The Editors