Looking in the rear view mirror, out the side window, and through the windscreen: Examining the past, current, and emerging quality indicators of Health and Physical Education journals

Year: 2021

Author: Sperka, Leigh

Type of paper: Individual Paper

In this paper, we examine Health and Physical Education (HPE) journals according to three key measures: library holdings, metrics, and altmetrics. We understand these comparative measures through the analogy of driving a car; looking in the rear view mirror (i.e., library holdings as past indicators of quality), out the side window (i.e., metrics as current indicators), and through the windscreen (i.e., altmetrics as future indicators). Before examining these measures, we acknowledge the neoliberal audit culture as well as attempt to define the HPE field.  To identify HPE journals, we searched databases, websites, and literature, generating a list of 159 potentially relevant journals. After three rounds of refinement, 10 journals remained that: 1) focused on health and/or physical education as a school subject (including HPE teacher education), 2) had official metrics, and 3) self-identified as ‘Social Sciences - Education’ and had more than 20% of the papers in the last two volumes focus on HPE. For each of these journals, we provide the WorldCat library holdings, metrics (i.e., Journal Impact Factor, Journal h-index, CiteScore, SCImago Journal Rank, and Source Normalized Impact per Paper), and altmetrics. We explain how to understand these measures, as well as their contested, problematic and, often, confusing dimensions. Further, we highlight how different HPE journals could use different significant metrics to claim that they are the leading journal in the field. Overall, we argue that, while metrics can be informative and worthwhile, they need to be critiqued, contextualised, and applied in conjunction with other comparative measures such as library holdings and altmetrics.