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ESF introduces European Reference Index for the Humanities (ERIH)

The European Science Foundation (ESF) unveiled in May the European Reference Index for the Humanities (ERIH) in hope of increasing the visibility of European research in humanities and that conducted in European languages other than English.

The development of ERIH began to take shape in 2002, when 29 researchers and representatives of 17 ESF Member Organisations met and agreed that the cause of the low visibility of European humanities research was the inadequacy of existing bibliometric databases. According to the ESF, the ERIH aims to serve as both a bibliographic and a bibliometric tool in order to facilitate both access to and assessment of humanities research in Europe. Furthermore, it aspires to raise the threshold standards of editorial practice of journals throughout Europe. At the current stage, only journals are listed in the index. The idea is to eventually include monographs and edited volumes, which are more commonly used by humanities scholars than those in other disciplines.

Similar to university rankings, rankings of journals are often criticised for their unintended negative effects. One of the examples is the Australian Research Council’s adoption of a ranked journal list and a ranked conference list to support the evaluation of research excellence in Australia. These lists have a direct bearing on the allocation of research funding giving them significant (and not always appreciated) influence. Inconsistencies in the ranking positions of specific journals and the creation of delays in the dissemination of novel ideas as a result of the limited capacity of top journals and publishers to meet demands stand out as additional concerns about such indexes.

European Science Foundation - European Research Index for the Humanities (ERIH)

Australian Research Council - ranked journal list