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Do Political Science Journals Use Publons?

Posted on 12 Sep 2018

Political science journals have 14.704 peer reviews tracked at Publons, a platform which turns referee reports into quantifiable scholarly activities. While the average political science journal has 87 peer reviews documented on Publons, the most prolific ones are APSR, JCMS, and Publ Adm (with over 1.000 reviews each) followed by JOP, AJPS, EPSR, POP, Reg & Gov, Pol Stud and BJPS (ranging between 350 and 550 reviews). It is noteworthy that not a single political science journal has yet allowed reviews to be publicly displayed.

In their “top 10 things we learned editing Politics[1], the parting editors of the journal first and foremost mentioned that “Reviewers are the back-bone of scholarly research. The overwhelming majority of reviewers are conscientious, constructive, and considered in their feedback.” They add, “it is important that editorial teams offer advice on what makes for a good peer review, remove inappropriate reviews from the process, and use functions available through online submission systems to share best practice amongst reviewers.”

What they did not write is that even more useful functions are available through Publons, a platform which systematically turns peer reviews into measurable scholarly activities. Publons also provides automated suggestions for potential referees to editors (fetched through a huge database of almost half a million reviewer profiles), and allows editorial teams to evaluate the quality of reviews they receive.

With their big data-driven acceleration of the review process, Publons could potentially mitigate the perceived “peer review crisis” manifested, inter alia, in the fact that 16% of all political scientists do 50% of reviews [2], or in the highly uneven geographical distributions of those invited to scrutinize submissions [3]. But let us go beyond the frequently discussed individual reviewer-level problems and look at some journal-level metrics related to Publons.

Political Science and Publons

Not being confined to any specific academic discipline, Publons has so far documented over 2.7 million reviews from 25.000 journals. But how much does Political Science account for it?

For the 169 journals which are categorized as ‘Political Science’ at Web of Science (0.68% of all journals), Publons has so far tracked 14.704 peer reviews (or 0.54% of all reviews at Publons).

American Political Science Review leads the list with 1.366 reviews, followed by Journal of Common Market Studies (1.057 reviews) and Public Administration (1.012). After a large distance comes Journal of Politics (541) on the 4th place, the 5th is American Journal of Political Science (498), 6th is European Political Science Review (426), 7th is Perspectives on Politics (422), 8th is Regulation & Governance (386), 9th is Political Studies (361) and 10th is British Journal of Political Science (353). There are 32 further journals with more than 100 peer reviews at Publons. Less than 10 reviews are documented for 55 journals, of which 22 have zero reviews on Publons.

Note that almost all of the top 10 journals are ‘official partners’ with Publons, meaning that they automatically transfer information on peer reviews to the platform. In total, 35 out of the 169 Political Science journals have established such ‘official partnerships’.

While the mean number of reviews per Political Science journal is 87 (among ‘official partners’, this average number reaches 228), the median number is 26 (among ‘official partners’: 125).

Publons also grants journals the possibility to publicly display peer reviews, something a growing number of scholars and funders would like to see. A comment at Nature pleading for open reviews explains why it may not be desirable that only editors and authors (and partially referees) can see reviewer reports: “That enables several forms of abuse: referees might be superficial, rude or biased; authors might respond inadequately to reasonable criticism; editors might not hold authors or reviewers to account; and predatory publishers will charge fees without providing quality review” [4]. However, not a single Political Science journal has yet made it possible for authors to publicly display their reviews on Publons.

Here is a detailed list (as of 31 August 2018 – note that the mobile version of this blog post omits some columns):

American Political Science ReviewPS1366Official Partner
JCMS: Journal of Common Market StudiesIR & PS1057Official Partner
Public AdministrationPS1012Official Partner
Journal of PoliticsPS541Not a partner
American Journal of Political SciencePS498Not a partner
European Political Science ReviewPS426Official Partner
Perspectives on PoliticsPS422Official Partner
Regulation & GovernancePS386Official Partner
Political StudiesPS361Official Partner
British Journal of Political SiencePS353Not a partner
International Political Science ReviewPS329Official Partner
Journal of European Public PolicyPS302Official Partner
Comparative Political StudiesPS293Not a partner
Government and OppositionPS280Official Partner
Political Research QuarterlyPS246Not a partner
Political PsychologyPS240Not a partner
European Journal of Political ResearchPS235Not a partner
Political BehaviorPS229Not a partner
Electoral StudiesPS204Not a partner
GovernancePS190Official Partner
International Studies QuarterlyIR & PS182Not a partner
Politics and ReligionPS179Official Partner
Journal of Peace ResearchIR & PS166Not a partner
European Union PoliticsPS165Not a partner
Political CommunicationPS157Not a partner
DemocratizationPS156Official Partner
Party PoliticsPS135Not a partner
Public Opinion QuarterlyPS134Not a partner
Nations and NationalismPS131Official Partner
PoliticsPS130Official Partner
European Journal of Political EconomyPS127Not a partner
West European PoliticsPS127Not a partner
Economics & PoliticsPS125Official Partner
PS: Political Science & PoliticsPS125Official Partner
Local Government StudiesPS116Official Partner
American Politics ResearchPS116Not a partner
Journal of European IntegrationIR & PS114Official Partner
British Journal of Politics & International RelationsIR & PS113Official Partner
International Journal of Public Opinion ResearchPS109Not a partner
Journal of Public PolicyPS108Not a partner
Journal of Conflict ResolutionIR & PS106Not a partner
Socio-Economic ReviewPS103Not a partner
Review of International Political EconomyIR & PS102Official Partner
Public ChoicePS96Not a partner
World PoliticsIR & PS85Not a partner
Political Studies ReviewPS84Official Partner
Scandinavian Political StudiesPS82Official Partner
Review of International OrganizationsIR & PS70Not a partner
Journal of Public Administration Research and TheoryPS69Not a partner
Social Movement StudiesPS68Official Partner
Political GeographyPS63Not a partner
Acta PoliticaPS62Not a partner
Cambridge Review of International AffairsIR & PS60Not a partner
International OrganizationIR & PS58Not a partner
Journal of International Relations and DevelopmentIR & PS55Not a partner
International Studies ReviewIR & PS54Not a partner
Australian Journal of Politics and HistoryPS53Official Partner
Problems of Post-CommunismPS51Official Partner
Terrorism and Political ViolenceIR & PS50Not a partner
Politics & GenderPS47Not a partner
New Political EconomyIR & PS46Official Partner
Environmental PoliticsPS46Not a partner
Publius: The Journal of FederalismPS46Not a partner
Australian Journal of Political SciencePS45Not a partner
Canadian Journal of Political SciencePS45Not a partner
Journal of Women Politics & PolicyPS44Official Partner
Parliamentary AffairsPS44Not a partner
Comparative PoliticsPS43Not a partner
Policy Studies JournalPS43Not a partner
Political AnalysisPS43Not a partner
Europe-Asia StudiesPS42Not a partner
Legislative Studies QuarterlyPS41Not a partner
East European Politics and SocietiesPS39Not a partner
Review of Policy ResearchPS38Not a partner
State Politics & Policy QuarterlyPS38Not a partner
Swiss Political Science ReviewPS38Not a partner
Citizenship StudiesPS37Official Partner
International Journal of Press-PoliticsPS35Not a partner
Journal of Human RightsIR & PS33Official Partner
Review of African Political EconomyPS33Official Partner
Cooperation and Conflict IR & PS32Not a partner
Scottish Journal of Political EconomyPS30Not a partner
Global PolicyIR & PS29Not a partner
International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and EconomicsPS29Not a partner
Politics Philosophy & EconomicsPS29Not a partner
GeopoliticsPS28Not a partner
Latin American Politics and SocietyIR & PS28Not a partner
European Political SciencePS27Not a partner
Policy and PoliticsPS26Not a partner
Comparative European PoliticsPS25Not a partner
International Political SociologyIR & PS25Not a partner
International TheoryIR & PS23Not a partner
German PoliticsPS22Not a partner
Social Science QuarterlyPS21Not a partner
International Journal of Transitional JusticeIR & PS21Not a partner
Journal of Political PhilosophyPS20Not a partner
Mediterranean PoliticsIR & PS20Not a partner
African AffairsPS19Not a partner
Lex Localis: Journal of Local Self-GovernmentPS19Not a partner
International Feminist Journal of PoliticsPS16Not a partner
Global Environmental PoliticsIR & PS16Not a partner
Territory, Politics, GovernancePS14Not a partner
South European Society and PoliticsPS13Not a partner
Studies in Comparative International DevelopmentIR & PS13Not a partner
PolityPS12Not a partner
European History QuarterlyPS11Official Partner
Policy and SocietyPS11Official Partner
Contemporary PoliticsPS11Not a partner
Japanese Journal of Political SciencePS11Not a partner
Revista Brasileira de Politica InternacionalIR & PS11Not a partner
Armed Forces & SocietyPS10Not a partner
Journal of Theoretical PoliticsPS10Not a partner
Revista de Estudios PoliticosPS10Not a partner
Revue d'Économie PolitiquePS10Not a partner
Political TheoryPS9Not a partner
Ethics & International AffairsIR & PS8Not a partner
International Journal of Conflict and ViolenceIR & PS8Not a partner
Quarterly Journal of Political SciencePS8Not a partner
Irish Political StudiesPS7Not a partner
Journal of Strategic StudiesIR & PS6Official Partner
Political SciencePS6Official Partner
Contemporary Political TheoryPS6Not a partner
Journal of Cold War StudiesIR & PS6Not a partner
Politische VierteljahresschriftPS6Not a partner
Romanian Journal of Political SciencePS6Not a partner
Political Science QuarterlyPS5Not a partner
Historical Materialism: Research in Critical Marxist TheoryPS5Not a partner
Independent ReviewPS4Not a partner
Journal of Policy HistoryPS4Not a partner
Latin American PerspectivesPS4Not a partner
PolitikonPS4Not a partner
Revista de Ciencia PoliticaPS4Not a partner
Contemporary Southeast AsiaIR & PS3Not a partner
Politica y GobiernoPS3Not a partner
Presidential Studies QuarterlyPS3Not a partner
Austrian Journal of Political SciencePS2Not a partner
Philippine Political Science JournalPS2Not a partner
Post-Soviet AffairsPS2Not a partner
Ethics & Global PoliticsPS1Not a partner
Historia y PoliticaPS1Not a partner
Internasjonal PolitikkIR & PS1Not a partner
International PoliticsIR & PS1Not a partner
Journal of Chinese Political SciencePS1Not a partner
Journal of DemocracyPS1Not a partner
Politicka EkonomiePS1Not a partner
Revista del CLAD Reforma y DemocraciaPS1Not a partner
Studies in Conflict & TerrorismIR & PS1Not a partner
Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social SciencePS0Not a partner
Annual Review of Political SciencePS0Not a partner
British PoliticsPS0Not a partner
Communist and Post-Communist StudiesIR & PS0Not a partner
Critical ReviewPS0Not a partner
Current HistoryIR & PS0Not a partner
DissentPS0Not a partner
Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary PoliticsPS0Not a partner
Human Rights QuarterlyPS0Not a partner
Journal of Australian Political EconomyPS0Not a partner
Monthly Review: An Independent Socialist MagazinePS0Not a partner
NationPS0Not a partner
New Left ReviewPS0Not a partner
New RepublicPS0Not a partner
OsteuropaPS0Not a partner
Philosophy & Public AffairsPS0Not a partner
Political QuarterlyPS0Not a partner
Politics & SocietyPS0Not a partner
PolitixPS0Not a partner
Studies in American Political DevelopmentPS0Not a partner
SurvivalIR & PS0Not a partner
TelosPS0Not a partner


[1] Coward, Martin and Kyle Grayson. “Top 10 Things we learned editing Politics.Politics Blog (31 August 2018).

[2] Saideman, Steve. “Are Potential Peer Reviewers Overwhelmed Altruists or Free-Riders? New data reveal great inequality in peer reviewing in the social sciences.Duck of Minerva (13 November 2017).

[3] Gaston, Thomas. “Addressing the Regional Diversity of Reviewers.The Wiley Network (11 September 2018).

[4] Polka, Jessica K., Robert Kiley, Boyana Konforti, Bodo Stern & Ronald D. Vale. “Publish peer reviews.Nature (29 August 2018).

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