Herewith the latest news (as at 10 November 2008) on the ERIH controversy

c/o the French studies academic community (plus a link to discussion in the History and Philosophy of Science community). Main ERIH webpage …

Again, this affects or will affect us all, across the Humanities: if you are not already involved in the issue, it is hoped that these updates might poke you towards such engagement, provide arguments to copy & paste, or indeed introduce you to kindred spirits and potential new friends … All email addresses in the following have been removed.

Philip E. Bennett
Professor of Medieval French Language & Culture
University of Edinburgh:

I would like to add my personal concerns to those expressed by Lucille Cairns in her email and in the letter appended to her message. Perusing the lists of periodicals drawn up in History, Linguistics and Literature, areas central to my own concerns as a student of medieval French, I found I had several concerns.

The main one was the regularity with which major periodicals addressing smaller specialist audiences were graded “B”, especially if they also published solely or predominantly in a language other than English. There are, of course, honourable exceptions, but very broadly this is true. It is also notable that periodicals which include the name of an institution in their title, or which are known to be closely attached to one institution tend to be graded “B”, again with one or two honourable exceptions. There is also a lack of reference in all necessary areas to periodicals which publish in more than one topic. Professor Cairns drew attention to some, but in my own area I would add: Cahiers de Civilisation Médiévale (listed only in History, where it is rated “B”), Revue Romane (Copenhagen), Romanische Forschungen, Zeitscrift für Französische sprache und Literatur (all only in Linguistics, all graded “B”). I suspect that the grading of all these items reflects the interests of the membership of the very small panels concerned. I would add my voice to that of others in lamenting the absence of any transparency in the appointment of academics to panels. I would consider that in terms of the literary and philological research they publish they should be graded “A”. As should Romania. I would also add one very surprising absentee from any of the lists I consulted: Medioevo Romanzo. Less surprising, but of concern given the identity of one member of the Literature panel, is the absence of a reference to Olifant, a periodical specialising in studies of Romance epic.

I see two problems with the grading lists. The first is that there must be a strong suspicion that dissemination plays a large part in the grading, a factor which reflects more on the publishers and distributors of the periodicals than on the quality of research they publish. The second is that, whatever the advertised intentions of the organisers of the graded lists, the effect will be a series of self-fulfilling prophesies as more and more institutions insist that their staff “hit” the “big names” (i.e. the “A” graded periodicals), whether in the interests of REF or more insidiously as part of the promotions process. While it is undoubtedly utopian to look for the abandonment of graded listings, it is important that regular pressure is applied for regular renewal of panels, as well as regular reviewing of gradings so that the sort of hierarchical sclerosis does not set into our area, which is already taken for granted in so many parts of science, medicine and the social sciences.

William S. Brooks
Professor of French
University of Bath:

Like everyone else, I’m surprised by certain omissions and many of the scores. As to the scores, it is all very well for the introductory blurb to state:

[Quote:] As they stand, the lists are not a bibliometric tool for the evaluation of individual researchers. The distinction between the categories A, B and C is to be understood as being not primarily qualitative and the categorisation is determined by issues such as scope and audience as explained in the ERIH Guidelines. Thus, such categorizations of journals do not prejudge the scientific quality of individual articles that appear in those journals. [End quote.]

The fact is that ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’ will be understood in only one way by our funding masters, and the self-fulfilling aspect of the exercise, alluded to by Philip Bennett, is a clear danger. At the very least, this is the thin end of a wedge. It must be as plain as a pikestaff that if my research is into eclectic verse forms in Martian literature I am going to rate the Journal of Martian Studies as an ‘A’ and Etudes théâtrales saturniennes as a no-no. But my colleague who works in theatre studies will have the opposite scale of values. I strongly endorse Lucille Cairns’s letter and I agree with all the other contributions to the debate. (At least, so far.)

Floriane Place-Verghnes
Lecturer in French
University of Manchester:

Another message of support for everything that has been said so far and an addendum. The ERIH website states that ‘it is intended that ERIH will be extended to include book-form publications and non-traditional formats’ but so far these lists seem to leave out key e-journals, presumably on the basis that they are not in a traditional format. A quick survey of the ‘Literature’ section reveals the gaping absence of robustly peer-reviewed journals such as (inter alia) “Dix-Neuf” (C19th French literature) and “Image and Narrative” (the latter being however included in the ‘Art’ section). I fully take on board that these are ‘initial’ lists, but absences of this kind are not acceptable if e-publications are to be encouraged in a not-so-distant digital future marked by the increasing concern that is bookshelf space.

George Ferzoco
Research Fellow in Medieval Religious Culture
University of Bristol:

If any of you believe the ERIH system will work and be beneficial, then by all means contribute to it fully. If, on the other hand, you believe that regardless of how much imput is provided, this system will inevitably be at the very least one more burden or at worst a pernicious tool, then why should anyone do anything other than protest against it? See, for example, the letters at HES: DISC — Jorunal Ranking Exchange [Admin: see further below]. In particular, read what is stated there by Professor Frank James of the Royal Institution, London, and former President of the British Society for the History of Science: ‘I would like to conclude with the observation that for nearly 30 years we have lived under a regime that believed that these kind of evaluations, audits etc had a beneficial value despite the considerable evidence to the contrary. That regime is now bankrupt in all senses of the word and I see this as an opportunity to bring these exercises in controlling academia to a halt.’ I, for one, would be pleased if more learned associations followed this path. If we don’t, then we get precisely what we effectively ask for.

Pierre Larivée
Senior Lecturer in French Linguistics
Aston University:

I’m happy to say for general info that the newly formed University Council for Linguistics is preparing a letter to be sent by its President Paul Rowlett to the main UK para-governmental bodies. The more associations that press the ESF and UK bodies – HEFCE, AHRC, ESRC, Universities UK – the better. History and Philosophy of Science – c/o aforementioned link at HES: DISC: […] may be interested in the latest contribution to the debate from Professor Frank James of the Royal Institution, London, former President of the British Society for the History of Science. It appeared on both the MERSENNE (UK history of science) and HOPOS (history of philosophy of science) discussion lists, and was in response to a message from P. Hurst of the Royal Society. Both the James and Hurst letters appear below.

Phil Hurst
The Royal Society

(20 October 2008):
Subject: Journals under threat
Notes and Records of the Royal Society, has just published an editorial (see for details) with text that has been agreed upon by the editors of over fifty journals of the history of science, technology, and medicine across the world. It is to appear in each of the journals as a protest against the European Science Foundation’s initiative for a European Reference Index for the Humanities (ERIH).
ERIH is an attempt to grade journals in the humanities including “history and philosophy of science”. The initiative proposes a league table of academic journals, with premier, second and third divisions. What is implied is: if research is published in a premier league journal it will be recognized as first rate; if it appears somewhere in the lower divisions, it will be rated (and not funded) accordingly.

The editors who have signed “journals under threat” believe that such a process is unnecessary and potentially damaging to the interests of scholarship. Along with many others in our field, Notes and Records has concluded that we want no part of this dangerous and misguided exercise. What do you think of a “league table” of history of science journals?

Frank A.J L. James
Professor of the History of Science
The Royal Institution

(22 October 2008)
Following on from Phil Hurst’s message earlier in the week […], I would like to further add that the British Society for the History of Science together with other learned societies (or subject associations as the AHRC like to call them) has been actively campaigning against the journal rankings being imposed by European Science Foundation. The rankings can be found at the rather long address pasted below.

In a letter of 8 May 2008 that I wrote as President of the BSHS to Professor Philip Esler, chief executive of the AHRC (which purports to “champion” arts and humanities research in this country), I gave him details of a statistical analysis that I had undertaken on the list entitled “History and Philosophy of Science”. I pointed out that of the 166 journals ranked in this list, 94 are in the area of History of Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine and Mathematics (HSTEMM), 67 in philosophy of science and 5 were general journals which are not especially connected with either the history or the philosophy of science, but which usually contain some material on the subjects. Of the 94 HSTEMM journals 14.4% were graded A while 27.6% of the 67 philosophy of science journals received the same grade.

I asked whether AHRC endorsed the view that the overall quality of the philosophy of science journals was significantly superior to HSTEMM journals, but Esler refused to engage with this question. I also pointed out that those who compiled these rankings (listed below – none of whom are members of the BSHS) were entirely out of touch with the development of HSTEMM in recent years. I also noted my surprise that such a “forward looking and innovatory organisation” as the AHRC should support outdated disciplinary definitions. Again Esler, as champion of arts and humanities research in this country, chose not to engage with the issue.

In line with the editorial in more than 50 HSTEMM journals which has begun to be published, I urge the community to have nothing whatsoever to do with these rankings as it will only lead to the destruction of journals and restrict the free dissemination of the results of our collective scholarly endeavour. I would like to conclude with the observation that for nearly 30 years we have lived under a regime that believed that these kind of evaluations, audits etc had a beneficial value despite the considerable evidence to the contrary. That regime is now bankrupt in all senses of the word and I see this as an opportunity to bring these exercises in controlling academia to a halt. Please do feel free to forward this to other lists.

These are the people responsible for drawing up the History and Philosophy of Science journal rankings:
Maria Carla Galavotti (Chair), Università di Bologna
Christopher Cullen, Needham Research Institute, Cambridge
Jaroslav Folta, National Technical Museum, Prague
Juho Sihvola, University of Helsinki


The rankings can be found at: [Admin: unfortunately, these links led to “access denied”. The “Initial Lists” can be found at: .] Please comment via our “have your say forum” at

The “initial” lists

Feedback and who’s actually who: (taken verbatim from here)

IMPORTANT NOTICE regarding Expert Panels

Please do not contact Expert Panel members directly in order to give them your feedback about the ERIH “initial lists”.  Please note that an online feedback mechanism is available to interested parties to ensure that feedback about individual journals is submitted in a structured and secure manner. If you wish to make comments on the ERIH process in general, or on a number of “initial Lists”, please send your comments directly to the ERIH office.

ERIH Governance and panels

ERIH has a complex governance structure that reflects the historical development of the project and the nature of its stakeholders.

Standing Committee for the Humanities

The overall responsibility for ERIH lies with the ESF Standing Committee for the Humanities (SCH). The SCH consists of representatives of ESF Member Organisations (see below) and many SCH members are chairs of research councils and active researchers themselves. In addition to having identified the pressing need for ERIH and discussed the initial project, the SCH houses, through the SCH secretariat, the operational management of ERIH. It also vouches for the scientific integrity of the process, for example by approving the publication of initial lists. The ERIH Steering Committee reports to SCH.

ESF Member Organisations

The c. 80 ESF Member Organisations (MOs) include national research councils, research performing organisations and academies. After requesting the development of a reference index for the Humanities at a European level, MOs made and continue to make resources available for the running of ERIH.

In the early stages of the project, MOs compiled lists of journals to be considered for inclusion in ERIH  through consultation with scholars or by relying on existing national reference tools.  These lists were then analysed and assessed by Expert panels in order to create draft lists.  The draft lists were offered for wide consultation in 2006 in advance of being published as ‘initial’ lists in 2007. MOs are also responsible for appropriate uses of the ‘initial lists’ by their organisations. Their ongoing involvement in ERIH is coordinated through individuals who agree to act as national contact points.  A list of ESF Member Organisations can be found here.

ERIH Steering Committee

The ERIH Steering Committee meets three times a year. It has been appointed by the SCH plenary meeting. The Steering Committee is responsible for overall quality control of the project, for example, the comparative calibration of the lists. Members also devise the ERIH guidelines that are to be applied to the ERIH lists by Member Organisations and Expert panels. The Steering Committee  accompanies the work of the Expert panels through annual meetings with the Chairs of the Expert panels and the ERIH Coordinator acts as secretary to the Steering Committee. A list of ERIH Steering Committee members can be found here.

ERIH Expert panels

The ERIH Expert panels usually comprise 4-6 experts appointed by the ERIH Steering Committee. Members are mostly university-based academics (not professionals from the publishing world or librarians) to maintain the highest level of peer review quality assurance. Members were chosen to cover as many sub-fields as possible, as well as Europe’s geographical and linguistic areas. Compromises in both cases were inevitable. Double membership from one country in one panel was avoided.

The scientific authority over the lists lies with the Expert panels and they also define the relevant discipline’s scope lists. Panels meet 1-3 times depending on the size of the field and the complexity of the task.

A list of ERIH Expert panel members can be found here.  Documents that set out the processes and work of three panels: Gender Studies, Musicology and Philosophy are also available to download.

[Ah yes – here are The Actual Real Physical Persons involved:]

Steering Committee members

  • Alain Peyraube (Chair), CNRS, France; ERC Scientific Council; former SCH Member
  • Katharina Krause, Vice-president Philipps-Universität Marburg; Kunstgeschichtliches Institut Philipps-Universität Marburg
  • Ferenc Kiefer, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest; former SCH Member
  • Arto Mustajoki, University of Helsinki, Finland; Research Council of the Academy of Finland; former SCH Member
  • Marc Waelkens, KU Leuven, Belgium, former SCH member
  • Michael Worton, Vice-Provost University College London, formerly AHRC Council member

Ex officio from the ESF Office

  • Rüdiger Klein [from Oct. 2005]

ERIH coordinator / Secretary to the Steering Committee:

Julianne Nyhan

IMPORTANT NOTICE regarding Expert Panels

Please do not contact Expert Panel members directly in order to give them your feedback about the ERIH “initial lists”.  Please note that an online feedback mechanism is available to interested parties to ensure that feedback about individual journals is submitted in a structured and secure manner. If you wish to make comments on the ERIH process in general, or on a number of “initial Lists”, please send your comments directly to the ERIH office

Recomposition of the ERIH Expert Panels in 2008

In advance of the updating of the ERIH “initial Lists” that will take place in late 2008 / early 2009, the importance of inviting new Experts onto the ERIH Expert Panels has been recognised in order to make the process of updating the ERIH “initial Lists” as fair as possible. The following document Expert Panels: process and methodology of selection describes the process and methodology that underpinned the recomposition of the Expert Panels in 2008. It also includes an overview of the geographical distribution of the members of the recomposed ERIH Expert Panels


Jos Platenkamp (Chair), Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster (DE)

Andrés Barrera Gonzáles, Universidad Complutense, Madrid (SP)

Cécile Barraud, CNRS/Paris (FR)

Rosa Maria Figueiredo Perez, Instituto da Comunicação Social, Lisbon (PT)

Peter Skalnik, University of Pardubice (CZ)

Additional expert Sept. 2006 (evolutionary anthropology):

Francesco D’Errico, CNRS / Talence (FR)

Gisela Lausberg, MPI for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig (DE)


Lin Foxhall (Chair), University of Leicester (UK)

Csanád Bálint, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest (HU)

Serge Cleuziou, CNRS / Nanterre (FR)

Kristian Kristiansen, Göteborgs Universitet (SE)

Jacek Lech, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warzaw (PL)

Art, Architectural and Design History

Alain Schnapp, Université Paris 1 (FR)

Greg Clunas, School of Oriental and African Studies (UK)

Jose Burucua, Universidad Nacional del General San Martín-Argentine (AR)

Andreas Tönnesmann, Institut für Geschichte und Theorie der Architektur (CH)

Ingrid Ciulisová, Slovak Academy of Sciences (SK)

Cinzia Sicca Bursill-Hall Università degli Studi di Pisa (IT)

Classical Studies

Claudia Antonetti (Chair), Università Ca’ Foscari, Venice (IT)

Angelos Chaniotis, Universität Heidelberg (DE)

Antonio Gonzales, Université de Franche-Comté, Besançon (FR)

Richard Hunter, University of Cambridge (UK)

Paul Schubert, Université de Genève (CH)

Gender Studies

Gregory Woods (Chair), Nottingham Trent University (UK)

Ülle Must, Archimedes Foundation, Tartu (EE)

Harriet Bjerrum Nielsen, Universitetet i Oslo (NO)

Jens Rydström, Stockholms Universitet (SE)


Simon Mercieca (Chair), University of Malta (ML)

Richard Aldous, University College Dublin (IR)

Tønnes Bekker-Nielsen, Syddansk Universitet, Odense (DK)

Dusan Kovac, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava (SK)

John Morrill, University of Cambridge (UK)

Jan Luiten van Zanden, International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam (NL)

History and Philosophy of Science

Maria Carla Galavotti (Chair), Universitá di Bologna (IT)

Christopher Cullen, Needham Research Institute, Cambridge (UK)

Jaroslav Folta, National Technical Museum, Praha (CZ)

Juho Sihvola, University of Helsinki (FI)


Ekkehard König (Chair), Freie Universität Berlin (DE)

Jens Allwood, Göteborgs Universitet (SE)

Andrew Chesterman, University of Helsinki (FI)

Johan Van der Auwera, University of Antwerp (BE)

Henk van Riemsdijk, Tilburg University (NL)


Monica Spiridon (Chair), University of Bucharest, (RO)

Carlos Alvar, Universidad de Alcalá, Madrid, (ES)

Anne Marie Musschoot, Universiteit Gent, (BE)

Judith Still,  University of Nottingham, (UK)

Jane Conroy, National University of Ireland, Galway, (IE)

Pekka Pesonen, University of Helsinki, Finland, (FI)

Siegrid Weigel,  Universität Berlin,  (DE)


Christian Meyer (Chair), CNRS / Université Nancy 2 (FR)

László Dobszay, Institute of Musicology of the Hungarian Academy (HU) (until August 2006)

William Drabkin, University of Southampton (UK)

Jörn Peter Hiekel, Hochschule für Musik Dresden (DE)

Laurenz Lütteken, Universität Zürich (CH)

Pedagogical and Educational Research

Erno Lehtinen (Chair), University of Turku (FI)

Filip Dochy, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (BE)

Karen Jensen, Universitet i Oslo (NO)

António Sampaio Nóvoa, Universidade de Lisboa (PT)


François Recanati (Chair), Institut Jean Nicod, CNRS/EHESS, Paris (FR)

Manuel Garcia-Carpintero, Universitat de Barcelona (SP)

Diego Marconi, Universitá degli Studi di Torino (IT)

Kevin Mulligan, Université de Genève (CH)

Barry Smith, Birkbeck College, University of London (UK)


Christiane Spiel (Chair), University of Vienna (AT)

Manuel Carreiras, University of Laguna (ES)

Dieter Ferring, University of Luxembourg (LU)

Peter Fonagy, University College London (UK)

Lea Pulkkinen, University of Jyväskylä (FI)

Rene Schalk, Tilburg University (NL)

Carlo Umilta, University of Padova (IT)

Religious Studies and Theology

Hans Weder, Universität Zürich (CH)

Michael Pye, Philipps-Universität Marburg (DE)

Eila Helander, University of Helsinki (FI)

Gilles Dorival, Université de Provence, Aix en Provence (FR)

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