Introduction to the Top 40 - Economists
In 1980 the Dutch journal Economisch Statistische Berichten
published the first 'Top-40 of Economists'. The list and
the accompanying article were produced by someone called
A.D.S. de Schuite. In 1992 he switched to the Dutch weekly
magazine Intermediair. It was not until 1989 that
A.D.S. de Schuite was discovered to be a non-existent person,
and that, as an anagram, his name stood for 'Dutch disease'.
At that time the two persons behind it revealed their identity
(Arie Kapteyn and Tom Wansbeek). During the years the list
caused a lot of commotion within the world of Dutch economists.
Some people put their Top-40 ranking on their cv, and others
were described as being the 'number one' or 'number two'
on the list. Each year around Christmas, people were looking
forward to the new list and speculated on the names that
would be on it. But in the meantime the list itself gained
more and more criticism. Some people did not agree with
the selection of the approximately 70 journals the list
was based on, or had doubts about the formula that was used,
and the Kapteyn-Wansbeek duo decided to pass the list on
to a couple of other economists. What had once started out
as a game, had grown into too serious a business.
In 1990 the new couple published their first ranking, this
time under the mysterious name of Petra R. van Ostende.
This Petra was also a fictitious person. She stood for 'Streven
naar de top' ('Aiming for the top'). During the next few
years Petra limited the number of journals even more, namely
to some 30, which did not make her popular among those who
were excluded because of this. In 1994 the Top-40 had even
shrunk to a Top-20.
In 1997 Petra, Arie Kapteyn and some other people (with
affinity with the making of 'top-lists'), decided to join
forces. After several brainstorming sessions they came up
with a complete new way to produce a Top-40. Firstly they
decided to no longer base the list on a small selection
of journals, but to use the databases of (S)SCI journals.
These databases are set up by the
Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) in Philadelphia.
For each journal that is contained in one of its databases,
ISI reports an impact factor each year in its Journal
Citation Reports (JCR). The (S)SCI-impact factor of
journal j in year t is defined as the number
of citations found in the (S)SCI-database in year t
to articles published in j in the years t-1,
t-2, divided by the total number of articles published
in that journal in those two years. Then it was also considered
interesting to have a top-list of universities/institutes:
a Top-10, as a derivative of the Top-40 of Economists.
Another important change, compared to the previous top-lists,
is that from 1998 onwards the medium of Internet is used
to collect data. After searching the ISI-databases on names
(provided by contact persons of each Dutch university/ institute),
the results are put on the Internet and every economist
in The Netherlands is invited to check his or her own output.
In the event that any ISI-publications are missing (caused
by an inconsistent use of initials for instance), the author
can send an email. Ultimately this should lead to a list
that has a minimum of 'black-box' features, and that can
be checked up on by anyone in the world who feels like doing
meer info: ESB
Economisch Statistische Berichten