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Journal review: International Journal of Knowledge Management (IJKM)

This article is part of a series that is progressively reviewing journals for their KM content.

Official Journal Synopsis The International Journal of Knowledge Management Systems (IJKM) provides a forum for academics, researchers, and educators to analyze global aspects of knowledge management from differing cultural perspectives and their use of knowledge and knowledge management. Covering all aspects of knowledge regulation and order including organizational issues, technology support, knowledge representation, and more, IJKM focuses on the technical issues associated with the creation and implementation of knowledge systems utilizing artificial intelligence, entrepreneurial, and innovative initiatives.
Publisher IGI Global
Significant Figures Editor: Murray E. Jennex
Indexes Google Scholar
Issue Index
CrossRef
Issues 66 Ongoing? Yes Open Access No

The International Journal of Knowledge Management (IJKM) is traditionally considered one of the “big 3” knowledge management (KM) academic journals along with the Journal of Knowledge Management and Knowledge Management Research & Practice. Interestingly, according to the 2017 study by Serenko and Bontis it has dropped to fifth in overall rankings, with the Journal of Intellectual Capital and The Learning Organization journal overtaking it to take the second and fourth spots respectively.

Recently celebrating 15 years of publication, a 2020 retrospective analysis of the IJKM journal proudly points out that “the citation rate per article has increased impressively from below .44 in 2005 to 8.82 presently … showcasing the journal’s increasing influence … [pointing] toward the increasing significance of knowledge management in this information age and particularly in modern organizations.”

While it is, of course, nice for articles to be noticed and referenced, the apparently uncontroversial view that academic citation levels equate practical impact and uptake in organisations is unfortunate. With one of the most restrictive forms of open access yet reviewed (and a princely $37.50 cost per unlocked article), readily available IJKM articles are few and far between. Unless authors have taken the initiative to publish their articles on another site like ResearchGate or less, ahem, official means of access are adopted, it is very unlikely that the vast majority of work being published in IJKM has ever been accessed outside of academia.

It must be acknowledged that the editor Murray Jennex is very active in KM online forums including the SIKM Leaders Community, and he is generous in sharing personal copies of relevant research in that context. Nonetheless, it is both unfortunate and ironic that a self-asserted “premier resource in the field of Library and Information Science” makes its content so hard to access.

Based on listed abstracts in recent volumes, it is pleasing to see an evolution away from technology-focused knowledge management systems (ie technology-based solutions) towards a focus of systemic interventions and impacts. However, like many other KM journals the IJKM is too content with “armchair academia.” Content is impeccably cited and densely written but much of the practical research is lacklustre, with an overreliance on self-selected users and self-assessed questionnaires to test hypotheses. Too often, practical research is eschewed altogether to develop (yet another) theoretical KM framework based on past articles about KM frameworks.

This would not be so bad if the articles were drawing liberally from other disciplines with a track record in empirical experiments such as psychology and communications. However, this is not evident from the articles viewed; there is instead an ouroboros of KM articles that cite from and build on each other. Examples of recent articles (from those available) include:

The criticisms of this journal are not intended to reflect in any way on the good will or intent of contributors or editors. Publishing an academic journal of any kind is a mammoth endeavour, let alone one that has been running for 15 years. However, it is evident that knowledge management desperately needs academia to develop more tools for diagnosis and empirical testing of hypotheses. In particular, self-assessment has repeatedly been demonstrated to be significantly biased by one’s perception of self as well as how one would like to be perceived by others.

Any verbalisation of an organisation’s knowledge culture and practices will never accurately describe the problem needing to be fixed, any more than a brain can describe the tumour that is preventing it from functioning properly. Indeed were it otherwise, the need for knowledge management would have never arisen in the first place.

Note: An earlier version of this article referred to the IJKM as the third KM journal in overall rankings. These figures were erroneously taken from the 2013 study. Corrected to note that it is actually fifth in overall rankings.

Stephen Bounds

Stephen Bounds is an Information and Knowledge Management Specialist with a wide range of experience across the government and private sectors. As founding editor of RealKM and Executive, Information Management at Cordelta, Stephen provides clear strategic thinking along with a hands-on approach to help organisations successfully develop and implement modern information systems.

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Stephen, Thanks for this – I have been carrying out similar research into KM journals in preparation for an assault on the ramparts of leading academic citadels., so your excellent review was, for me, very timely A couple of observations:

    1. Serenko and Bontis updated their 2013 study in 2017 (available here: https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/JKM-11-2016-0490/full/html). The IJKM drops to 7th in that listing.
    2. Is the IJKM’s OA offering really more restrictive than Wiley/Palgrave Macmillan/Emerald? It looks like all of them offer free Green OA, allowing authors to post theior papeers for open access in OA archives or ResearchGate/Academia. etc. Authors with funding can pay for Gold.

  2. Thanks Chris, I actually linked to the 2017 study by S&B but inadvertently referred to the 2013 edition figures – corrected. (Edit: I used the wrong figures as well as the wrong reference, so doubly-bad of me there…)

    “Green OA” is increasingly a bit of a furphy it seems. The latest IGI guidelines allow self-publishing of papers on a “secure” personal website (it’s not clear if that means it has to be password protected) under Fair Use but explicitly exclude the use of “general open access sites” like ResearchGate, Academic.edu, Scribd, etc. Wiley and Emerald are not so clear about the prohibitions on “general open access” but it is implied that similar rules apply.

    While I can’t prove that publishers are cracking down on those straying outside Green OA guidelines, I could find virtually no published PDFs of articles from the IJKM in the last 24 months and only a few from earlier than that.

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