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Comments on the provisional applied mathematics rankings

The following comments should be read in conjunction with the excel spreadsheet

listing provisional rankings proposed by a subcommittee acting on behalf of the Chair of the NCMS, Professor Hyam Rubinstein. The subcommittee members were Prof Phil Howlett (Chair), Prof Phil Broadbridge, A/Prof Charlie McCaskill, A/Prof Jim Denier, Prof Andy Eberhard, A/Prof Barry Hughes and Prof KL Teo.

The subcommittee was required to rank a total of around 400 journals of which 5% (20) were to be at rank A*, 15% (60) at rank A, 30% (120) at rank B and with the remaining 50% (200) at rank C. The partially complete list posted on the Aust MS website for comment contains only those journals proposed thus far for rank A* (20), rank A (56) and rank B (84). The subcommittee will continue to work on the lower ranked journals while members of the applied mathematics community consider the rankings proposed thus far. We very keen to receive names for additional relevant journals to enter onto the list at ranks B and C. It will help us enormously if those nominating journals that are not currently on our lists could provide some additional background information about the nominated journals. We already have an extensive list of lower ranked journals but suspect that many of these are less important than other journals with which members may have had some past experience.

The following matters were taken into consideration when we compiled the list.

1. There is limited space in the top categories and it is not possible to list all of the journals used by applied mathematicians. Thus we agreed to omit journals were likely to receive an equal or better ranking within their home discipline. Thus, for example we omitted three A* ranked journals published by IEEE because they are certain to be ranked at A* by the engineering profession. Thus, as applied mathematicians we tried to distinguish between journals where we mathematicians control the destiny and those that are controlled by the discipline in which the mathematics is applied.
2. We tried to represent as many areas of applied mathematics as possible at all levels. Thus, although we felt that some journals should be omitted because they would be ranked appropriately within their home discipline (eg control theory) we nevertheless listed one outstanding control theory journal (Automatica) at rank A* to signify our interest as a profession in applied control theory.
3. If we cannot find enough serious journals to achieve the overall total of 400 for which we have aimed it will mean that we have to trim the numbers in the higher ranks. Thus, with a total of 300 journals the numbers in each category would be 15, 45, 90 and 150. I’m sure you will agree that this will be a difficult and painful task. Thus we urge you to contact us with names and details about additional journals. You can contact any of the committee members by email. The emails are:

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1. The table contains the recommended rank in the leftmost column and the original NCMS 2007 rank in the next column. This original NCMS rank was the agreed basis for our discussions. The original ARC proposed rankings (that drew widespread dissatisfaction) are given to the right of the journal name. It is most important to understand that any proposed rank that differs from the ARC proposed rank requires justification. Thus you will see that we have provided ISI data and a comments column to support our case. For some journals we require additional justification to sustain our recommendations. It is important for you to respond whenever you have pertinent comments to make.
2. We have cooperated as much as possible with the pure mathematicians (101) and the statisticians (104) to avoid dual listing and contradictory assessments from within the mathematics community. We have also omitted the journals dealing with mathematical physics which will be considered separately.

Our rankings to date are based on the evidence that we were able to find, the opinions of experts in the various areas and on submissions from various individuals. Although we are conscious of the fact that ISI data should not be the primary reason by which to rank a journal we have observed that within individual sub-disciples (say OR) the ISI data generally supports the opinions of experts. The qualifier to this rule is that there is a general tendency for the ISI data to decrease as the depth of the mathematics increases. We must remember, however, that in those cases where we disagree with the assessment implied by the ISI data we need good alternative arguments to justify our position.