The role of journals of architecture and urbanism in the dissemination of knowledge
Participation and impact of IAS

El rol de las revistas de arquitectura y urbanismo en la divulgación del conocimiento
Participación e impacto de los SIR

O papel das revistas de arquitetura e urbanismo na divulgação do conhecimento.
Participação e impacto dos SIR

César Eligio-Triana

Universidad Católica de Colombia, Bogotá (Colombia)
Facultad de Diseño, Programa de Arquitectura
Centro de investigaciones CIFAR

César Eligio-Triana
Arquitecto, Universidad Católica de Colombia, Bogotá (Colombia).
Magíster en Arquitectura, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá (Colombia).
Par evaluador reconocido por Colciencias e Investigador Junior (2015-2019).
Representante Andes Norte, Asociación de Revistas Latinoamericanas de Arquitectura (ARLA).
Editor Revista de Arquitectura (E-ISSN 2357-626X e ISSN 1657-0308).

Recibido: marzo 7/ 2018
Evaluado: marzo 21 / 2018
Aceptado: marzo 22 / 2018

Para citar este artículo / to reference this article / para citar este artigo:

Eligio-Triana, C. (2018). El rol de las revistas de arquitectura y urbanismo en la divulgación del conocimiento. Participación e impacto de los SIR. Revista de Arquitectura, 20(1), 3-13. doi:


The communication of nationally produced knowledge is moving towards processes that respond to international dynamics. Different national policies encouraged an increase in the number of journals that sought to position themselves as recognized means of disseminating local scientific production, which created great doubts about the relevance of continuing with this strategy. The indexing and categorization processes of Colciencias-Publindex, instead of promoting national publications, opted to reduce the number of journals in order to consolidate and support the positioning of a few. An analysis of the results of the Call 768 of 2017 shows that, although differentiations were made according to "Large area of knowledge," this classification does not allow seeing how the dynamics are within each area and discipline. In the case of architecture and urban planning, results are lower than the national average, and classified journals need to work hard to maintain national indexation and international positioning; for those journals that did not classify, it implies reengineering looking to guarantee an adequate dissemination of disciplinary knowledge.

Keywords: social appropriation of knowledge, research in architecture, Publindex, systems of indexing and abstracting (SIA), bibliographic indexes.


La comunicación del conocimiento nacional está migrando hacia procesos que respondan a las dinámicas internaciones. Por diferentes políticas nacionales se fomentó el incremento del número de las revistas que buscaban posicionarse como medios reconocidos de divulgación de la producción científica local, lo que creó grandes dudas sobre la pertinencia de continuar con esta estrategia. Los procesos de indexación y categorización generados por Colciencias-Publindex, en lugar de fomentar las publicaciones nacionales, optaron por reducir el número de revistas con miras a consolidar y apoyar el posicionamiento de unas pocas. A partir del análisis de los resultados de la Convocatoria 768 de 2017 se puede evidenciar que, si bien se generaron diferenciales por Gran área de conocimiento, esta clasificación no permite ver cómo es la dinámica al interior de cada una de las áreas y disciplinas. Para el caso de la arquitectura y el urbanismo, los resultados son más bajos que la media nacional, y la labor de las clasificadas es ardua para lograr mantener la indexación nacional y el posicionamiento internacional; para aquellas que no clasificaron esto implica una reingeniería con miras a garantizar una adecuada divulgación de conocimiento disciplinar.

Palabras clave: apropiación social del conocimiento, investigación en arquitectura, Publindex, sistemas de indexación y resumen (SIR), índices bibliográficos.


A comunicação do conhecimento nacional está migrando a processos que respondam às dinâmicas internacionais. Por diferentes políticas nacionais, fomentou o aumento do número das revistas que procuravam posicionar-se como meios reconhecidos de divulgação da produção científica local, o que criou grandes dúvidas sobre a pertinência de continuar com essa estratégia. Os processos de indexação e categorização gerados pelo Colciencias-Publindex, em lugar de promover as publicações nacionais, optaram por reduzir o número de revistas com vistas a consolidar e apoiar o posicionamento de umas poucas. A partir da análise dos resultados do Edital 768 de 2017, pode-se evidenciar que, embora tenham sido gerados diferenciais pela Grande área do conhecimento, essa classificação não permite ver como é a dinâmica no interior de cada área e disciplina. Para o caso da arquitetura e do urbanismo, os resultados são mais baixos que a média nacional, e o trabalho das classificadas é árduo para conseguir manter a indexação nacional e o posicionamento internacional; para aquelas que não classificaram, isso implica uma reengenharia a fim de garantir uma adequada divulgação do conhecimento disciplinar.

Palavras-chave: apropriação social do conhecimento, pesquisa em arquitetura, Publindex, sistemas de indexação e resumo (SIR), índices bibliográficos.


    General results by Large area
    Results by Large area: Humanities - Area: 6.D Art
    Status of publications in 6D07-Architecture and urbanism
    Participation of journals of architecture and urbanism in some indexing and abstracting systems
    Publindex and the promotion of publications
    ¿What path to follow?


On September 15, 2017, the results of the Call 768 of 2016 (Colciencias, 2017c) were announced, which aimed to evaluate the quality of national scientific journals, using criteria related to editorial management, visibility, and impact of publications, with the purpose of increasing the quality of national scientific production and its dissemination at the international level.

These results created a big debate and questioned some current national practices regarding scientific publications, mostly related to an overwhelming increase of publications and low rates in relation to the number of researchers that form the academic community that can support them,2 inbreeding, use and impact levels, citation, h-index3 and h5-index,4 international visibility, among others.

After the results are known, it is necessary to examine the specific balance for journals of architecture and urbanism. In order to do this, it is important to take as a starting point the reflection made by Patricia Méndez who poses the question of what are we talking about when we think of a journal of architecture (2011, pp. 6-7). It seems to be a question with a simple answer, but it has a complex explanation if we consider all the factors involved in its conceptualization. In this case, we deal with journals that seek to transmit new disciplinary knowledge, but doing so, they enter in the realm of standardization, globalization, and loss of identity; in some cases, it seems that they even tend to be distant from everyday professional practice.

The journals of architecture that opted for the research track are aimed at giving account of indexation, indicators, and clearly defined and standardized editorial processes, with which quality is measured; however, there is nothing more debatable than this claim. The construction of an academic community around the production of knowledge, evaluation, and appropriation—by peers and by the reading public— must be the real raison d'être of publications.

Considering this situation, this paper aims to identify the current status of national journals of architecture and urbanism in the National Bibliographic Index - NBI Publindex and in other indexing and abstracting systems (IAS); to this effect, it seeks to diagnose the results of the Call 768 of 2016 for area (Art) and discipline (Architecture and Urbanism), and to examine disciplinary classification, citation levels, and participation in IAS.


Information was collected from data available in the National Indexing System for Specialized Publications in Science, Technology, and Innovation (Publindex), as well as in different IAS (Colciencias, 2017b), which include some journals of architecture. It should be noted that the classification of journals of architecture is very diverse; in some IAS, they are included in humanities, in others they belong to social sciences, and in others to engineering, which hinders comparisons among publications and makes it very difficult to identify exact participation given this thematic dispersion.

This paper takes as a basis the results of the Call 768 of 2016 (Colciencias, 2017c), which are presented by large area5 and classification obtained (A1, A2, B, and C).6 Nevertheless, given that they do not identify the area and discipline7 each journal belongs to, it was necessary to refine results by publication title, editorial orientation or approach, and declared scope.8

In the case of Colombia, the classification of journals of architecture and urbanism, as shown in Table 1, corresponds to humanities and arts, although there may be other publication spaces that are not exclusive to architecture, but deal with the professional work of an architect; these will be reviewed in a general way.

Table 1. Classification of journals of architecture according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and identification of other possible publication spaces by area of activity of an architect

Source: Author's elaboration, 2017, with data from Colciencias (2016, pp. 40-48).

Additionally, a search and data collection was conducted in some of the SIA defined by Colciencias, seeking to identify the thematic classification of journals of architecture and their quantity in relation to the total number of publications of the same profile and their behavior in these SIA; in some cases, this analysis was not possible since there were no mechanisms to filter and access the results by discipline or by country.


General results by Large area

The general results of the Call 768 of 2016 (Table 2) evidence the classification of 244 journals and the exclusion of 378 (equivalent to 61%); this represents a great loss of publication spaces in each large area, but it can also be interpreted as an opportunity to increase selectivity in published material and, in this line, to improve the quality of journal content. Similarly, the purpose is for national researchers to submit their articles in international settings and, in particular, in journals included in bibliographic citation indexes (BCI).

Table 2. Synthesis of the official Publindex results by large area

Source: Author's elaboration, 2017, based on Colciencias (2017c) and Dirección de Fomento a la Investigación (2017).

Additionally, the results allowed observing the h5-index for each Large area (diagnostic phase), which can be classified as low, in particular in humanities, since of the total production of the reviewed journal, only 11 articles received at least 11 citations.

On the other hand, it is also observed that, in addition to the number of excluded journals, the great majority of journals received lower national classification ratings, leaving only one journal in the A1 category, 14 in A2, 104 in B, and the remaining 125 in C, which is a very discouraging scenario, since only 6.4% of the journals were placed in higher categories, and 51% of them were in the lowest category, which indicates weak international positioning or a low citation rate of the published articles, fact that evidences a great difficulty to access higher categories.

Results by Large area: Humanities - Area: 6.D Art

Humanities journals (Table 3) correspond to 16.4% of the 244 classified journals, and although this participation is significant compared to the totality of journals, it is worrisome that they have the lowest h5-index = 11, together with natural sciences (h5-index = 10), which indicates that, although the number of journals may be acceptable, there is no evidence of an academic community that would use and base its knowledge on the material published in these journals (at least at the citation level). This can be understood since academics have traditionally been more focused on publishing books as a means of spreading knowledge.

Table 3. Breakdown of journals by Large area: Humanities and category obtained

Source: Author's elaboration based on the interpretation of possible classification, 2017.

Regarding humanities, art journals only represent 15% of the large area and only 2.5% of the total of classified journals, which is an indicator of the difficult participation of this field of knowledge in the current dynamics of publishing in journals.

Status of publications in 6D07- Architecture and urbanism

The breakdown of the results in disciplines, in this case those belonging to architecture and urbanism (Table 4), shows that only three publications maintain indexation, one in category B (Revista de Arquitectura) and two in category C; it also evidences that previously all three journals were in category B, which implies a descent (Table 5). This phenomenon reveals some weaknesses of the Publindex measurement model, since it can be said that the two journals that descended have been "punished" for being in BCI, since the h-index that allows them to ascend a quartile is more difficult to achieve in closed communities (SJR) than in communities open to different types of documents, as in Google Scholar (GS).

Table 4. Breakdown of humanities journals by Area: Art and category obtained. The participation of journals of architecture and urbanism is highlighted.

Source: Author's elaboration based on the interpretation of possible thematic classification, 2017.

Table 5. Journals classified by Area: Architecture and Urbanism

Source: Author’s elaboration based on the result of the Call.

The journals of architecture and urbanism that did not achieve indexation (Table 6) correspond to 79%, and the three classified journals (Table 5) only represent 1.2% of the total indexed journals. It is important to note that the loss of indexation is much higher than the average of publications in general, which is 61%, despite the fact that it is in the large area of humanities where less journals have lost indexation (55%). It is also important to highlight that journals stay concentrated in the city of Bogotá, two in private universities and one in a public one.

Table 6. Journals that did not achieve indexation, organized by the last category obtained and the date of their last indexation

Source: Author's elaboration, 2018, based on the information registered in the Publindex application and filtered by Large area and Area of knowledge.

An analysis of the indexed journals (Table 6) shows that until September 15, 2017 there were eight more journals; two of them (journals Apuntes and Nodo) had good positioning (A2 and B) and their inclusion in the new list of not classified journals seems strange. It should be clarified that neither of them was included in any BCI; it is possible that a low h-index or editorial management issues did not allow renewing their national classification.

Two more journals had lost indexation in June 2015 (one of them had category B - Dearq), and one other in 2012. Another two journals, although they are registered in Publindex, do not report any previous classification.

This shows the existence of 16 journals of architecture in the country, aimed at the dissemination of national and international research, but they have to work hard to continue with their national and international positioning due to the lack of Publindex classification, which prevents national researchers from participating in them;9 nevertheless, they can continue to include articles written by foreign researchers and position themselves in the international context, which sometimes seems to be more useful and important when compared to the benefits offered by Publindex.

Participation of journals of architecture and urbanism in some indexing and abstracting systems

The thematic classification of journals of architecture in indexing and abstracting systems (IAS) is very diverse: in some, they are in humanities, in others in social sciences, and in others they are in engineering. This makes it difficult to have comparability among journals, since their participation is dispersed (as evidenced in Tables 1 and 7).

Table 7. Journals of architecture and related disciplines in different IAS (Publindex classification) [classification in SJR]

Source: Author's elaboration with data recovered from each IAS, February 2018.

In the international scenario, the results of the impact factor calculation of journals in Web of Science (WOS) present a different panorama for journals of architecture; according to the collection Arts & Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), in arts and humanities, citation level is much lower and the impact factor of these journals is not calculated, but simply a list of them is issued (Vasen & Lujano, 2017, pp. 201-202). This is a great differential that highlights dynamics within humanities and shows a significant participation of journals of architecture, which cover 25.8% of the total collection (51 of 198), but in which no Colombian journal is included. It should be noted that some may also be classified in the Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE) and Social Science Citation Index (SSCI).

In the Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), the participation of journals of architecture is 5.2%, and it includes three national journals, of which only one is classified in Publindex. This fact can be interpreted as another weakness of the national model, since journals in the process of achieving better international visibility were not classified.

A review of the Journal Citation Report (JCR) in the Architecture category shows no presence of Colombian journals; some Latin American journals are in Q2 with h-indexes between 1 and 4, and in Q3 (H 1 <3). In the case of Urban studies, the Colombian journals included are positioned like this: two in Q4 with h = 2; in Visual Arts and Performing Arts, there are three journals: two in Q2 (h = 2) and one in Q4 (h = 1). In the Engineering-Miscellaneous category, there are four Colombian journals in Q2 and Q3, but none of them has a profile directly linked to architecture.

This outlook presents a first scenario that suggests that journals of architecture should not be valued only by citation; in SJR, a low h-index is observed, but at the same time it is a great opportunity to get a good positioning since, as observed, some journals have achieved inclusion in different quartiles with h = 1 or 2.

In the regional context, as an aggregator of journals and contents, the Ibero-American Network of Innovation and Scientific Knowledge (Redib) collects the largest number of publications in architecture and related fields,10 where 24 national publications can be located. This can cause doubts about the selectivity of journals, but, at the same time, the agreement with Clarivate Analytics allows incorporating some scientific quality indicators that provide Web of Science bibliometric information (citing articles), now visible in each article, which is a good opportunity to assess the included journals and their contribution in the "main trend." This will allow a future development of a ranking of the impact of Ibero-American publications.

In the case of SciELO, it is impossible to conduct an efficient search since it only presents results by large area. Redalyc, as a rapidly growing project with great rigor in the selection of publications, includes only 9 journals of architecture, three of which were recently added, and only two of the total are from Colombia: Revista de Arquitectura and DeArq, the latter not classified by Publindex. In related fields, another five national journals can be found, but compared to a much larger universe, which means less participation. As part of Redalyc 3.0, alternative indicators are being constructed that can show a different panorama,11 among which the following stand out: publication (origin of articles, external, internal, and internal institutional); co-authorship (written by more than one author); internationalization (proportion of foreign authors, number of foreign countries, and proportion of articles with at least one foreign author); editorial effort (average of works generated by the journal, taking as a basis the average in the discipline to which the journal belongs), and downloads. These indicators allow recognizing other strengths in journals beyond citation.

In contrast to the selection and exclusion scenario, the Association of Latin American Journals of Architecture (ARLA)12 is making great efforts to include journals of architecture in three large collections: Directory, Catalog, and History (these journals are not only of investigative nature), in order to encourage searching and consulting articles published in regional journals, and also to build an academic community of readers, authors, and evaluators that would allow improving the positioning and recognition of research and works carried out in Latin America.


Publindex and the promotion of publications

After this analysis, there remains the doubt about what is the role of Publindex and whether its job is to validate national classification according to international criteria of BCI. Is the existence of Publindex necessary? Who recognizes Publindex in the international arena? There are many questions that arise and will continue to arise from this process regarding the direction and actions taken by Publindex.

One of the possible scenarios is that Publindex, as part of its commitment to promotion, incorporates a dissemination platform (at the repository level) that promotes national research production, and this is not very encouraging. The vast majority of IAS are already using new technologies, and information tracking and capturing happens through interoperability and internal communication between computing platforms. In the case of Publindex, all editors are forced to upload useless information, which duplicates work that could be done semi-automatically between platforms. What happens with interoperability in Publindex? Who is consulting the information uploaded to the Publindex application? Does Publindex follow up on the uploaded information? Does search engines track the contents uploaded to Publindex? Or is it just a requirement to validate the existence and information veracity of the editorial management process, but based on a principle of distrust, where it is possible to audit and verify what is uploaded there.

The results of Publindex and the analysis of IAS reveal some weaknesses of the national classification model. The dynamics of quartiles, h-indexes, and impact factor allow the classification of journals with very low h-index. Some publications managed to stay in Publindex thanks to the quartiles, but with low h5-POP (Publish or Perish),13 while others that were not in quartiles did classify thanks to high h5-POP; given this, it is important to question again: Are citations and quartiles really a reflection of the quality of a publication? What other indicators can be used to assess the quality and impact of journals?

Maintaining a greater number of publications can also be a favorable scenario from the perspective of the training and promotion of researchers, since ample spaces can serve as a training platform so that those who are starting their careers can consolidate their contributions, make themselves known, and gradually climb through different levels of scientific communication.

Another aspect has to do with the objectives of the Call and is related to the visibility and impact of publications and dissemination of this knowledge production at the international level, since national production and some journals already had a certain level of positioning in the international environment, which was not properly valued by the Publindex model. This is the case of journals of architecture such as Dearq, Nodo, and Iconofacto, which were not classified, but in which commitment, quality of content, and the adoption of current publication guidelines are evident. The same thing happens with related journals such as Calle 14 in the field of art, one of the most renowned journals in the field, which remains committed despite national results.

If Publindex wants to be recognized as a system of quality assessment, not only of validation, it should develop an assessment procedure that looks at journals in the multidimensionality of a publication, valuing different categories and weightings,14 and that ultimately determines thresholds that allow seeing the real state of publications in the national context. In this process, it is also important to value the quality of assessment and to recognize the activity of peer reviewers, as well as the work of editors and editorial teams in different institutions and in the science and technology model.

On the other hand, as expressed by Vasen and Lujano (2017, p. 202), the current model, based on bibliometric indicators, promotes a "double periphery" (a disciplinary and a linguistic-geographical one), which does not address the reality of publications in humanities and social sciences, nor does it give credit to production carried out in languages other than English, and in which geographical position is a barrier. Does it make sense then to continue publishing in the regional context? And if this is not viable, is the solution to publish only in international journals? This means that in case of national research, this should be consulted in foreign publications and in a different language. Should not it be the opposite? Should not it be that to seek answers to our research problems our own journals should be consulted, to position, in this way, not only articles, but also publications from the country and the country itself? The proposal made from Publindex is to give national production to a closed circle, with restricted access, so that others benefit from national research in exchange for the expectation of an indefinite number of citations (at best).

The results also evidence the low participation of Colombian and regional journals in the main quartiles. This is a position that has to be examined carefully, since new knowledge produced in the country and the region is diluted among so many articles, which may mean that, instead of gaining space, there disappears the possibility to appear as a country or region with our own publications and research problems.

If the path is to follow the "main trend" of BCIs, then as part of its promotion program, the Government should finance access to databases and paid articles, so that researchers at the majority of universities can have access to information; it should also include support for Article Processing Charge (APC) payments,15 since otherwise a high percentage of research budgets allocated by universities and their allies would no longer be devoted to research itself, but to publication, which is meaningless in a world where communication channels are increasingly broader and more diverse and, therefore, access to information should not be restrictive. It makes more sense to invest in research itself and the consolidation of publications, under a sustainable model of open access, which would be more interesting for many universities as publishing entities, since it would bring them more benefits and recognition.


¿What path to follow?

For the particular case of journals of architecture, it is important to think about the implications of the fact that there are only a few of them and they are concentrated in Bogotá; what are the possibilities of researchers from different regions to access paid content and disseminate local content if, in many cases, these issues are of little interest to international journals and the national publication space is now scarce, which guides research production towards a unidirectionality of contents and supposed international quality, as expressed by Vasen and Lujano:

As far as researchers are encouraged to publish in spaces where local research agendas are not of particular interest, they will be forced to modify their research topics to adapt them to a global agenda. This could imply a greater distancing from local problems (2017, p 206).

Such is the urgency to publish and the prestige sought in publications that priorities seem to be reversed, and researchers are not asked about what their results and findings are, but where they will publish them and in what quartile; knowledge became an indicator that does not reflect directly the contribution of the research; in light of this, it is worth reflecting on whether the number of citations received by an article correctly reflects its quality. Juan Carlos Pérgolis and Jairo Valenzuela describes the dynamics between new knowledge and indicators as follows: knowledge is not found in the sentences or paragraphs of a research report, but in the capacity of this to produce new knowledge in the reader through reflection. In this way, the value of an investigation is much more than its apparent results or the quantification of its products [...] (those that give points) [... ] The game of points in research is not the game of rating television programs, although at times they may seem very similar (2013, p. 5).

In this sense, we need to recover the true value of things; we must not confuse the purpose of research with mechanisms of legitimation that, in many cases, tend to move away from reality itself.

On the other hand, architecture, as a theoretical and practical discipline, has many ways to be studied (Fierro Corral, 2016, p.64), and it is important to reconcile discourse and projects or the relationship between research and creation (Colciencias 2017a, p 45). In the past, journals were means of dissemination in the profession, and they were a true example and reference of its task; with time, they became the memory of the thoughts and architectonic work of a country, which allowed observing the differences and advances of local knowledge. In these new scenarios, in many cases, research is dispersed without clear criteria and seems to increasingly move away from projects. Will perhaps buildings and cities be better if more articles are published in journals that are indexed in a higher quartile? Better cities and architecture more in line with the context and needs of users should be a more reliable indicator of the true impact of disciplinary research.


1 Some of the results presented in this article are part of the poster presented at the Third International Congress of Redalyc Editors, organized by the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México (Mexico) and the Universidad César Vallejo (Peru), held in the city of Trujillo (Peru) on May 16-18, 2018.

2 All this ignoring the fact that not only researchers from our country participate in national journals, but there are a good number of international researchers too, which could also have been a criterion for evaluating publications.

3 A measurement model based on the number of citations and relationship with the number of papers published.

4 H-index of the last five years.

5 Under the guidelines of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) adopted by Colciencias

6 Classification categories in the Publindex model.

7 The resulting database can be downloaded as a complementary file of this article on the website of the Revista de Arquitectura,

8 For this reason, there may be a margin of error, biases or inaccuracies in the tabulated results, since this classification is not precise in some journals, or they belong to multidisciplinary fields and are assigned to a large area, even if it is not the most representative.

9 Since, the model for group measurement and recognition of researchers would not take into account articles published in these journals.

10 Although Latindex exceeds it in quantity (106), it only includes general data of journals and not the contents, which is why it is not very important as a means of disseminating publications. In the case of Colombian journals of architecture, only eight journals are included, but not all of them are of investigative nature.

11 These can be consulted and analyzed by country, institution, discipline, and journal.

12 See

13 See

14 Something similar to how the group model is structured.

15 See Silva-Rodríguez (2016), who presents a study on the sustainability of publication models.


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