Web of Science Book Citation Indices and the Representation of Book and Journal Article Citation in Disciplines with Notable Book Scholarship

  • Kim Quaile Hill orcid logo (Texas A&M University)
  • Patricia A. Hurley orcid logo (Texas A&M)


The Book Citation indices in the Web of Science Core Collection of citation data could be of enormous importance for those scholarly disciplines for which books are major research products.  If well constructed and implemented, these indices could better capture the full body of individual scholars’ work than the article citation indices alone do, as well as how that full body of work is recognized by citations from later publications. Individual scholars, their scholarly peers, and book publishers would all benefit from such indices.  Yet there is no systematic evidence on how the Book Citation Indices are constructed or on how comprehensively they capture important scholarly work in books.  We present original empirical evidence in a case study for the discipline of political science that indicates the Web of Science Book Citation Index is failing to meet its stated ambitions – because it is not well structured to achieve those ambitions and not well marketed to the essential actors in the publishing industry who are critical for it to function as intended.

Keywords: Web of Science Book Citation Index, citation analysis

How to Cite:

Hill, K. Q. & Hurley, P. A., (2022) “Web of Science Book Citation Indices and the Representation of Book and Journal Article Citation in Disciplines with Notable Book Scholarship”, The Journal of Electronic Publishing 25(2). doi:



Published on
09 Dec 2022
Peer Reviewed

Data on citations to scholarly publications are essential for various applied and basic science purposes. They are routinely used to assess the research productivity of university faculty candidates for tenure and promotion. They are also used to identify the most prominent scholars in particular disciplines (e.g., Masuoka, Grofman, and Feld 2007a) and to support theory-building research on what accounts for variation among scholars in their research productivity (e.g., Djupe et al. 2020). In assessing the publication records of scholars in disciplines in which scholarly books as well as journal articles are important research products, both such publications must be accurately captured in citation data so that both are counted—regardless of whether those citations are in articles or in books.

Citation data for both articles and books are available from many sources (e.g., Scopus, Google Scholar, the Web of Science, and others), and all those sources have been critically analyzed from one or another perspective. Citation data for books in those sources, however, are especially ill understood. As one example, bibliometric studies have provided valuable critical assessments of strengths and limitations in the Book Citation Indices in the Web of Science (WoS) collection, which are examined in this article, as well as assessments of how these indices have been used by scholars in different disciplines (e.g., Chi 2020; Glänzel, Thijs, and Chi 2016; Torres-Salinas et al. 2014). But the latter research does not address how comprehensively these indices count citations to books and in books in relevant disciplines.

This article assesses how well the WoS Social Science and Humanities Book Index captures such scholarly work in political science, a single-discipline focus that allows us to assemble especially strong evidence on that concern. We examine the WoS Book Citation Index for several reasons. It is arguably the most prominent and widely used source for citation data; it offers detailed citation data on multiple research products (such as journal articles, books, and conference papers); and, unlike some of the competing sources, its methods for identifying publications to monitor for citations are relatively transparent. We examine the coverage of books only in political science, our own discipline, because intimate knowledge of publication practices in a discipline is essential for our methods of evaluation. Yet our results are likely generalizable to all disciplines where books are an important medium for scholarly communication.

We first discuss how the WoS Book Citation Indices were established, the goals for these indices, and the procedures by which they identify scholarly works for inclusion. Second, we explain the importance of scholarly books for political scientists—as a representative discipline where such scholarly works are prominent research products. Then we present two kinds of original evidence that cast doubt on how well the Book Citation Indices are achieving their stated goals. One body of evidence is for how successful two select samples of strong candidate books in political science are in getting selected for the index. The second evidence is for how well political science editors at top-ranked presses understand the index and, thus, are prepared to exercise their role in nominating books for it—a role central to the WoS’s expectations for how the selection process will be initiated.

Basic Facts about the Web of Science Book Citation Indices

In 2011, and perhaps in recognition of the limited citation base of its journal article indices, the WoS introduced a Book Citation Index for science and one for the social sciences and humanities. These indices are promoted by the WoS as identifying those books that “will most likely contain significant scholarship” (Testa 2017, 1). How successfully they accomplish that goal is critical for disciplines in which books are important publication outlets.

Each of the two Book Citation Indices is a list of selected books in relevant disciplines (e.g., the separate social sciences and humanities disciplines) for which citations are tallied in easily searchable form in these indices, which we will refer to collectively as the BKCI. Thus, in some respects these indices mirror the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI) and the Science Citation Index that count citations to journal articles. Yet the BKCI is constructed in a different way from these two journal article indices.

The BKCI was introduced in 2011 with about 25,000 books published between 2005 and 2011 when Thomson Reuters owned this platform (Gorraiz, Purnell, and Glänzel 2013, 1389). The firm Clarivate that now owns the platform extended the coverage of the BKCI, although it remains distinguishable in several ways from the SSCI, the journal citation index that is compatible in terms of disciplinary coverage with the BKCI for political science. Journals are included in the SSCI when articles published there collectively earn very high numbers of citations, and, thereby, the journal itself earns a high journal impact factor. All the articles published in the history of these journals (or since 1900) are indexed for citations. Thus, the SSCI includes essentially all the articles published in all the journals in relevant disciplines with very high impact factors but also those published in many journals with lower scores on this metric. In contrast, the BKCI does not capture all the book publications in given years by the most prestigious presses, or even all the books from some named list of presses of varying prestige. Instead, by an internal editorial process explained below, only selected books published each year are incorporated into the index, with about 10,000 newly published books across all disciplines added in each recent year. It is also evidently rare for older books to be brought into the index. Current WoS explanations indicate that to be considered for inclusion a book must have a copyright date within five years of the year when it is considered.

Furthermore, a publication suitable for inclusion in the BKCI can be a conventionally published, unified work of original research; a book of discrete chapters by different authors; a dissertation; a “book in series”; a translation of a non-English work; or a biography.1 Yet how those categories are represented in the BKCI is not available in WoS publications. The scope of inclusion of possible books for any particular academic discipline in the index is also difficult to estimate. In August 2022 the WoS website observed that the index included over 128,000 books published since 2005. The totals by disciplinary category are not listed for that year, but in 2020 the WoS website reported that 38 percent of all the books in the BKCI were in the social and behavioral sciences; 21 percent in the arts and humanities; 12 percent in physics and chemistry; 13 percent in engineering, computing, and technology; and less than 10 percent each in three more fields. No finer disciplinary estimates are available on the WoS website.

Books are also included in the BKCI with separate, citable entries for the entire book and for each chapter or section (such as the preface and appendices). This is evidently to account for when citations are to specific portions of a book versus to the whole work, yet it can make the summing of total citations to single books, and the calculation of summary indices like the h-index, cumbersome. Citations to articles in the SSCI within selected books are counted for those articles in the SSCI. Citations to other sorts of works in books in the BKCI are tallied in other WoS indices when that is appropriate, or they are recorded in a separate catalog found only with a cited reference search for an individual author (which would also uncover citations for conference papers and for articles in journals not in any WoS index). Yet we have never seen a published work using cited reference search data from the WoS, likely because collecting such data for a sizable number of scholars would be remarkably time consuming in contrast to the ease with which one can collect information from the SSCI and BKCI.

The Goals for the WoS Book Citation Index

Two WoS online documents explain the ambitions for the BKCI. The document “Web of Science Book Evaluation Process and Selection Criteria” lays out the criteria by which books nominated by the presses that published them are judged for “editorial rigor and best practice.”2 One set of these criteria mostly entails checking for conventional book contents such as having an identifiable publisher, ISBN number, original scholarly content, timeliness, a statement of purpose, and complete information on the author or authors. The second set of criteria includes substantive ones such as whether the author has expertise “consistent with the stated scope and purpose of the book,” whether the book consists of “original material or otherwise make[s] unique contributions to the literature,” and whether it has “appropriate citations to the literature.”

A second online document elaborates the ambitions for the BKCI regarding how it is intended to connect citations in books to those in other WoS products such as the SSCI for journal articles.3 The primary goal stated in this document is that “the Book Citation Index connects the wealth of references in authoritative books to the greater citation index.” Or, stated another way in the same document, the goal is to allow scholars to “analyze the citation network between books and the wider world of scholarly and scientific research.” These ambitions to choose “authoritative books” that become part of the “citation network” with other research products such as journal articles elaborates Testa’s (2017) statement that books chosen for the BKCI contain “significant scholarship.”

More Details of the Book Selection Process

We gathered original evidence on this process through extensive email exchanges in 2020 with William Rice, the WoS editorial manager for the BKCI; Jeffrey Dougherty, a solutions specialist; and Nathan Sutton, a product support representative with the WoS, all of whom communicate with users who seek more detailed understanding of products in the WoS Core Collection than can be inferred from the conventional website descriptions. These email exchanges were not held under the expectation of anonymity, and no private information about human subjects (that would make this human subjects research according to our university rules) was asked for or revealed. Our several email exchanges with these three individuals provided an elaboration of the book selection process outlined in the preceding section of this article. We explain that process as it emerged from these exchanges with quotations in particular from William Rice. Because these are proprietary products, it may not be surprising that answers to our questions were often more general than specific.

These WoS representatives explained that the selection process is a collaborative effort with relevant book presses. More specifically, as Rice stated, the consideration of books requires “formal submission for evaluation by the publisher, and we evaluate at the level of book volume, so the diversity of books considered is driven largely by the submissions received” (William Rice, email to author, August 17, 2020). Books are submitted from presses around the world and presumably in many languages, although the majority are in English and come from English-speaking nations. But these WoS representatives did not provide us example numbers of how many books are nominated a year.

These interviews also reenforced the discussion above about the multiple criteria for the selection of books for the BKCI. Rice, however, stressed only the criterion for “editorial rigor and best practice at the book level.” We find the phrase “best practice” used by Clarivate difficult to interpret. It may refer to the parts of the discussion above about how only certain types of books will be considered, such as those that have full address information for all authors, complete bibliographic information for all works cited in the book, and other content discussed on the Clarivate website.4 But the meaning here of “editorial rigor and best practice” is not clear to us, especially since it seems to refer to the most elementary criteria by which books are evaluated for the BKCI.

Rice also explained that the in-house editors who chose books for the index are not affiliated with any publishers, have backgrounds from “academia to publishing to librarianship,” and have “deep understanding of standards in book publishing and indexing.” He observed that each editor reviews thousands of books each year, across many academic disciplines, and indicated that in most instances a single in-house editor makes the decision on whether to include an individual book (William Rice, email to author, August 17, 2020). Finally, and in reply to a question from us on this point, Rice said that the WoS has no validation process to assess whether books selected for the index have higher “citation impact” than those not selected.

The Value of a Case Study for Political Science

A case study of the selection of political science books for the BKCI offers several unusual virtues, because a good deal is known about book and journal article publication patterns for scholars in this discipline. While much of the most important research in political science appears in journals included in the SSCI, books are also important research outlets in the field, as others have observed (e.g., Garand and Giles 2011, 382; Rice, McCormick, and Bergmann 2002, 751; Samuels 2013).

For concrete evidence of the preceding observation, in a separate study we have calculated original evidence on book publishing over the research careers of political scientists who entered tenure-track faculty positions in the United States in 1998 and 1999 (Hill 2021). Data from mature cohorts of scholars like these are especially valuable for assessing book publications, because many of these books were published in mid- or late career. Sixty-six percent of the scholars in those two cohorts who earned tenure in a research institution published one or more books of original research, 48 percent of them published two or more such books, and 27 percent of them published three or more such books.

Thus, the inclusion of books in the WoS BKCI is important to fully represent the research of the many political scientists who author scholarly books. Otherwise, citations to those books are not accessible in the WoS Core Collection. Furthermore, the citations to other books and articles within books are only counted for those books included in the BKCI. Also important, political science books have more citations to scholarly journal articles than do articles in the SSCI, and books themselves are cited more frequently in other political science books than in political science articles (Samuels 2011, 785, 2013, 896).

The publication patterns described above indicate how the representation of political science research in books is central to the accurate counting of citations to books and to journal articles. Even the citation counts for articles in the SSCI are biased downward when citations to those articles in books are not captured. Yet while multiple online sources exist for citation data, much of the research on this topic in political science (e.g., Djupe et al. 2020; Masuoka, Grofman, and Feld 2007a, 2007b) as well as other social and physical sciences (e.g., Grosul and Feist 2014; Petersen and Penner 2014; Sinatra et al. 2016) employs data for citations to journal articles alone from relevant WoS journal citation indices or from one of those indices combined with other exclusively journal archives.

Judging the Success of the BKCI by the Books Selected for Inclusion

It is widely observed that scholarly eminence and success are principally determined by peer evaluation that might be from survey-based assessments of peer scholars, citations of published work, or notable research honors based on peer assessment (e.g., Feist 2014, 64). And the fundamental first step for peer review is in the review of manuscripts submitted for journal or book publication. This is where one’s peer scholars most rigorously assess how “authoritative” or important a given research product is or whether it demonstrates “significant scholarship.” Thus, perhaps the most important assessment of how well the BKCI identifies such scholarship would be based on how commonly books that are published after especially rigorous peer review are selected for the index. If the most rigorously peer-reviewed books are not especially successful in being chosen for the BKCI, then the index is failing to meet its ambitions to include the most notable book publications and to depict the citation network between “authoritative” books and other sorts of publications.

Political Science Books from Highly Regarded Presses.

Our first empirical evidence based on the assumptions in the preceding paragraph is for books accepted for publication by the most highly regarded presses for political science. Such books should be particularly strong candidates for the Book Citation Indices. Especially prestigious presses attract especially strong manuscript submissions for publication, call upon leading scholars in the book’s research field to be manuscript reviewers, choose the best reviewed books to publish, and therefore should have particular success with books chosen for this index. Garand and Giles (2011) report the results of an open-ended survey of American political scientists regarding the book presses they preferred for submitting their own best work for publication and for reading “the best research in your area of expertise” (376). This survey reports how members of the political science academic community rank book presses in terms of the prestige of the books they publish. Garand and Giles (382) also report very high comparability in the rankings of the top presses across respondents in different fields of research specialization. In the Garand and Giles survey, Cambridge University Press and Princeton University Press were ranked either first or second as the preferred outlets for the respondents’ own manuscripts for scholars in each of the fields of American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory. Thus, Cambridge and Princeton books in these four subfields should be especially promising candidates for inclusion in the book index. Furthermore, besides both being highly prestigious academic presses, they offer a useful contrast as Cambridge has a vast publishing program and Princeton a more select though still broad one.

A WoS representative with whom we exchanged email messages provided a list of the political science books added to the book index in 2017. That list includes 823 books—the largest number of books in this discipline added to the book index in recent years. We identified from the websites for Cambridge University Press and Princeton University Press all the hardback books they issued in 2017 in the four research fields under consideration here. Table 1 reports the success of these Cambridge and Princeton books in terms of selection for the BKCI. In seven of the eight subfield categories, only very small percentages of the relevant books were selected for the BKCI. Only in the numerically small category of political theory for Princeton University Press, with seven books, were even half of the books selected for the index.

Table 1:

Books of Original Research in Political Science Issued by Top-Ranked Presses in 2017 and Those Selected for the Web of Science Book Citation Index

New, Hardback Number (and %) Selected
Books Issued for the Book Citation Index
Cambridge University Press
American government, politics, and policy 57 5 (9%)
Comparative politics 69 4 (6%)
International relations and international organizations 107 5 (5%)
Political theory 32 3 (9%)
Princeton University Press
American politics 10 2 (20%)
Comparative politics 9 1 (11%)
International politics and foreign policy 17 2 (12%)
Political theory 7 4 (57%)

    Note: These counts of numbers of books selected in individual research fields do not exclude duplicate listings across fields.

In summary, Cambridge published 263 discrete books (excluding duplicate listings of the same book in two subfields) in 2017 in the four fields considered above, and 15 of those books (6 percent) were selected for the BKCI. Princeton published 41 discrete books in those four subfields, and seven books (17 percent) were selected for this index. Thus, only modest numbers of the books from the most prestigious presses for political science earned that distinction. The authors and the titles of the books selected for the BKCI are listed in the Appendix at the end of this article.

We also examined the 2017 books issued by the presses that were ranked third for book submissions in the Garand and Giles (2011) survey in the following subfields: 6 books in American politics issued by the University of Chicago Press, 50 books in comparative politics issued by Oxford University Press, 2 books in international relations issued by Cornell University Press, and 15 books in political theory issued by the University of Chicago Press. None of the 73 books from these presses in these fields was selected for the Book Citation Index.

Presses That Were Highly Successful in Having Political Science Books Selected for the BKCI.

A full exploration of which books were adopted for the BKCI in 2017 depending on which press nominated them is beyond the scope of this article. But a few statistics on that matter are notable, and they provide unusual evidence for our assumption that the most rigorously reviewed books would have the best prospects for being selected. Books were chosen from a wide variety of presses in Europe, the United States, and other regions of the world. But the most successful presses in numbers and thus percentages of political science books selected were Routledge (ranked eighteenth in the Garand and Giles 2011 survey of political scientists), with 18 percent of the total books in 2017, and Palgrave (ranked twenty-seventh in the Giles and Garand survey), with 11 percent of the total. In contrast, books from Cambridge, the top-ranked press in the Garand and Giles survey, represent only 6 percent of the total adopted for 2017, while Oxford University Press, the third ranked press in the Garand and Giles survey and also a large-scale publisher, had no political science books selected for the index in 2017.

We see an intriguing contrast in these data. The most prestigious presses did not achieve remarkable success in having their books accepted for the BKCI. But a few less prestigious presses enjoyed high success. We cannot conclude that their books were less rigorously reviewed, but we can conclude that they do not have the same disciplinary reputation for rigorous review as the most prestigious presses. Perhaps, alternatively, the editors at the especially successful presses better understand the role they are expected to play in nominating books for the BKCI.

Books Receiving Major Research Book Awards at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association.

The second body of direct evidence relevant to our assumption that rigorously peer-reviewed books should have especially good chances being selected for the BKCI is based on such peer review at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association (APSA). A small number of “Organized Sections” (that is, for scholars in topic-specific research areas) of that association present best book awards at annual meetings of the association to books published in the field in the preceding year. These books are chosen by a peer review process in which committees of notable scholars in the subfield identify their top-ranked choice from numerous nominated books. Seven such awards from the 2018 annual meeting for books published in 2017 are listed online ( for the sections on American political thought, foundations of political theory, international history and politics, legislative studies, political economy, politics and history, and religion and politics. Only two of these seven APSA recognized books were included in the WoS book index (and are listed in our Online Appendix). This is further evidence that few political science books that have earned high peer evaluations are being selected for the BKCI.

Perceptions of the Book Citation Index at Leading Publishing Houses

Assuming again that the most prestigious presses would publish the most competitive books for this index, we emailed the sole or most senior acquisition editor for political science at seven of the top-ranked presses in the Garand and Giles (2011) survey (Harvard University Press was ranked fifth in that survey but did not list conventional political science as an acquisition area). Because these editors supervise the peer review and acceptance process for manuscripts, they are best positioned in their presses to evaluate books for their potential “authoritativeness” and thus competitiveness for the BKCI. We queried these editors about how familiar they were with the book submission process for the index, the selection process and criteria for it, and how successful their submissions typically were. These presses, in rank order in the Garand and Giles survey based on the responses from scholars across all fields of research specialization, were Cambridge University Press, Princeton University Press, Oxford University Press, the University of Chicago Press, Cornell University Press, the University of Michigan Press, and Yale University Press.

These email exchanges addressed only the policies of the presses for nominating books for the BKCI and were not carried out with the expectation of anonymity, and no human subject information was asked for or received. Yet to avoid the possibility of embarrassing any individual who responded to our email, we do not report individuals’ names.

The results of the survey were sobering for the ambitions of the BKCI that are summarized above. Only one of these editors was well informed about their press’s policy toward this index—because that press never submits books for consideration. Furthermore, none of the other six editors was knowledgeable of their press’s relationships with the WoS or the particulars of which books, if any, were conventionally submitted for the BKCI. Only two knew that books were being submitted at all. Three of the editors speculated that any books sent for consideration for the index were chosen by the marketing team, yet none of those editors knew any details of how the marketing team might have chosen books to submit.

Some particular observations from these editors are also notable. One who thought it was a marketing function to select books to submit also said that “our publicity director wasn’t sure what we’re sending.” Another admitted to being a “bit stumped as I was not aware that we had been sending our political science titles to the Web of Science Book Citation Index. I had assumed that books were added to the index by the [Clarivate] editors of the index based on their discovery of suitable titles.” The editor who said their press never submitted books for consideration also stated that “this does not prevent an author from submitting a book to this or other similar indices,” which, like the preceding observation, is contrary to Clarivate’s rules for book submission. Finally, one editor passed our email query to the head administrator for the press, who responded, “We submit all our monographs automatically … and I’ve always assumed that all of them are accepted.”

In light of the preceding observations, it should be no surprise that none of the editors felt they understood the Clarivate rules for how the BKCI submission process works. Furthermore, and in reply to a specific query from us, none of them could even speculate about what the selection criterion for “editorial best practice” might mean. In sum, our email exchanges with editors at highly prestigious presses indicate they are not sufficiently knowledgeable of the BKCI to exercise their expected collaborative role envisioned for the WoS book nomination and selection process outlined above.


The stated goals for the BKCI—to identify the most important scholarship in books and to support analyses of “the citation network between books” and other scholarly works—are of particular importance to the many disciplines for which books are an essential research medium. Yet the evidence presented here raises considerable doubt about the success of these indices.

One reason for such doubt is that the procedures for how books should be nominated and then evaluated for inclusion in the BKCI limit the achievement of its ambitions. Consider that the Science Citation Index and the Social Science Citation Index for journals effectively put in the hands of peer scholars the choice of prominent journals, how well individual articles achieve prominence by way of citations, and how articles are networked through other journals. Journals with well-cited papers by peer scholars are incorporated into these indices, and then all the citations to specific articles published in those journals—again by peer scholars—are counted.

In contrast, the BKCI substitutes the peer review–based model with one that relies on two other sorts of agents to identify the best books. Representatives of publishing houses must identify their most promising new books and nominate them for the index. Then a panel of in-house editors who evidently do not include many, if any, peer scholars for individual disciplines selects from the nominated books. Some of the evidence we present indicates that the first required step above for the submission process is failing. Clarivate has not marketed the BKCI effectively to the editors and marketing teams of leading presses. There is considerable ignorance in these presses about how the BKCI works and about its value for presses and authors. We must assume that this problem affects many other presses.

Evidence from Chi (2020) for the relatively low use of the BKCI by social science and humanities scholars—in disciplines, that is, for which books are especially important—suggests that the books chosen in the second step above by in-house editors must also be failing to advance the goals for the index. That is, social science and humanities scholars are not finding the BKCI a valuable tool for searching for citations when one would logically expect it would be especially valuable for them. Evidence we present also indicates that few especially rigorously peer-reviewed books from leading presses—that are especially likely to be highly cited—are being selected for the BKCI. And the latter finding may explain why many scholars are not finding the index of value.

We emphasize that these problems with the BKCI materially affect citation counts for journal articles as well as for books. Samuels (2011, 2013) demonstrates political science books cite more articles and books than articles do. And because the citations in books not included in the BKCI are not counted in the WoS, likely the majority of citations to other scholarly work in books are lost for assessing scholarly recognition and for assessing the “citation network” between books and other publications—one of the stated goals for the BKCI.


Universities, research institutes, or private organizations that purchase the Web of Science (WoS) Core Collection for their libraries should have a WoS liaison with whom members of their faculty or staff might initiate a conversation about the details of one or another product in that collection. Our university’s liaison had just left his position, however, so our initial query to him went to a different “product specialist” with whom we began a valuable question and answer conversation about the Book Citation Index (BKCI). That individual, however, could not answer all our questions and thus referred the latter questions to the editor for the BKCI. We also had some dialogue with another “solutions specialist” that was the outcome of earlier queries to the first-line IT help assistance reached via the WoS Core Collection web home page. All three of these individuals provided valuable information about how the BKCI is designed and how books are selected for it—as discussed in detail in the article.

It is worth noting that the first-line WoS IT staff, as is the case with most similar organizations, can only answer very basic questions about products in the Core Collection. Furthermore, many of them in our experience cannot even understand questions about more fundamental aspects of those products. But successive follow-up queries with such first-line staff will lead to a more senior IT person taking responsibility for answering users’ questions.

In late 2020 we emailed the political science acquisition editors, or the most senior such editor, at the following top-ranked presses in the Garand and Giles (2011) survey of American political scientists, listed here in rank order from the top: Cambridge University Press, Princeton University Press, Oxford University Press, the University of Chicago Press, Cornell University Press, the University of Michigan Press, and Yale University Press. We identified these editors and their email addresses on the individual presses’ websites. First-round emails with a series of questions about what these editors knew about the BKCI and how their presses engaged with it went out November 18 to 19, 2020. Yet we had to send some second- and even third-round versions of these emails to some of these editors before getting substantive replies from them.

As explained in the text of this article, Cambridge University Press issued initial, hardback print editions of 57 books in 2017 that it identifies as on “American government, politics, and policy,” and five of those books were included in the WoS book index:

Evan Gerstmann’s Same-Sex Marriage and the Constitution

Andrea Benjamin’s Racial Coalition Building in Local Elections

Sarah A. Treul’s Agenda Crossover

Dustin Gish and Daniel Klinghard’s Thomas Jefferson and the Science of Republican Government (also on their political theory list)

William G. Ross’s World War I and the American Constitution

Cambridge published print editions of 69 books in the category for “comparative politics” in 2017, and four of those were selected for the book index:

Maria Repnikova’s Media Politics in China

Vivienne Shue and Patricia M. Thornton’s (eds.) To Govern China

Samuel Handlin’s State Crisis in Fragile Democracies

Carl Dahlström and Victor Lapuente’s Organizing Leviathan

Cambridge published 107 books in 2017 in “international relations and international organizations,” five of which were included in the book index:

Catherine Lu’s Justice and Reconciliation in World Politics

Isabelle Ferreras’s Firms as Political Entities (also on their political theory list)

Joshua Simon’s The Ideology of Creole Revolution

Judith G. Kelley’s Scorecard Diplomacy

Susan L. Woodward’s The Ideology of Failed States

Cambridge also published 32 books in “political theory” in 2017, and three of those were selected for the book index:

Isabelle Ferreras’s Firms as Political Entities (also on their international relations list) Simon Stow’s American Mourning

Dustin Gish and Daniel Klinghard’s Thomas Jefferson and the Science of Republican Government (also on their American politics list)

In 2017 Princeton University Press published 10 books in “American politics,” and two of those were added to the book index:

Melvyn P. Leffler’s Safeguarding Democratic Capitalism (also on their international politics and foreign policy list)

Paul Frymer’s Building an American Empire (also on their political theory list)

Princeton issued nine books in “comparative politics” in 2017, and one book from that set was added to the book index:

Axel Körner’s America in Italy

Princeton issued 17 books in 2017 in “international politics and foreign policy,” and two books from that list were added to the book index:

Melvyn P. Leffler’s Safeguarding Democratic Capitalism (also on their American politics list)

Kathryn Sikkink’s Evidence for Hope

Princeton also published seven books in “political theory” in 2017, and four from this list were added to the book index:

Paul Frymer’s Building an American Empire (also on their American politics list)

Moshe Halbertal and Stephen Holmes’s The Beginning of Politics

Yuri Slezkine’s The House of Government

Elizabeth Anderson’s Private Government

In summary, Cambridge published 263 discrete books (excluding listings in two subfields) in 2017 in the four subfields considered above, and 15 of those books (6 percent) were selected for the Book Citation Index. Princeton published 41 discrete books listed in those four subfields, and seven books (17 percent) were selected for this index. Thus, only modest numbers or percentages of books published by the most prestigious presses for our discipline earned that distinction.

As explained in the text of this article, some Organized Sections (for members identifying with particular research subfields) of the American Political Science Association (APSA) give best book awards to books published in the field in the preceding year, and seven such awards from the 2018 annual meeting are listed online for the sections on American political thought, foundations of political theory, international history and politics, legislative studies, political economy, politics and history, and religion and politics.5

Two of these seven APSA recognized books were included in the WoS book index:

Paul Frymer’s Building an American Empire (Princeton University Press)

Catherine Lu’s Justice and Reconciliation in World Politics (Cambridge University Press)


  1. “Web of Science Book Evaluation Process and Selection Criteria,”, accessed May 13, 2022. [^]
  2. Ibid. [^]
  3. Book Citation Index, accessed August 19, 2022. [^]
  4. The phrase “editorial rigor and best practice” echoes the language of the Committee on Publication Ethics (Wikipedia n.d.) when it promotes “best practice in the ethics of scholarly publishing,” but we have no indication this is what the WoS has in mind in its use of the related phrase. [^]
  5. The book awards for 2017, and other awards in other sections, are listed at, accessed August 20, 2020. [^]


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