Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

The Social Science Citation Index: A Black Box—with an Ideological Bias?

by and

Read this article

Access statistics
23,626 article downloads
24,810 complete issue downloads
Total: 48,436


In figuring eminence in the social sciences, the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI) is of great importance. Yet the SSCI selection process is a black box. Scrutiny of the SSCI journal list reveals that the stated SSCI journal selection criteria are vague and applied inconsistently. The Nation, The New Republic, and many other periodicals that fail to meet most conditions said to be a criterion for inclusion are nonetheless included in the SSCI. I investigate whether the process and resultant list are, not merely inconsistent, but ideologically biased. Although it is impossible to determine with great confidence whether there is an ideological bias, I present a variety of evidence of bias in favor of journals of a social democratic orientation and against journals of a classical liberal orientation.