This paper sheds, through the concepts of demography, a differnet light on the study of scientific journals. Without leaving aside the major role played by scientific journals, such an approach allows for the use of tools which are at the basis of information watch in research. Different key variables are used such as the date of its birth of a journal (resp. its date of death), the migration to other fields of knowledge or to other audiences... A certain number of indicators are exposed such as the rates (gross or net) of new publications or deaths. Some applications are proposed.
This paper analyses the determination of visibility of journals in which researchers of INRA (National Institute for Agricultural Research) publish. The corpus is comprised of 671 articles published over a period of four years in 258 journals. The advantage of the method applied for determining the visibility of journals is that it combines two approaches: a) bibliometric indicators (coverage by the ISI-publications and by two specific French databases) and b) experts' opinions (10 economists and sociologists). The main results are: a) There is a convergence between the opinion of the experts and «visibility» in the databases, b) The impact factor confirms the main opinions of the experts. The first journals ranked by the experts and JCR Social Sciences are the same but represent only 40 per cent of the total journals analysed. The other journals were revealed by the experts and French databases.«Whoever seeks to pass a balanced but lucid judgement on the general trends of the activity carried out by the profession to which he belongs, is liable to say either banalities or to hurt his colleagues»