Journals publishing on community engagement

(Photo: Geralt)

(Photo: Geralt)

What journals publish articles on community engagement? To find out I did a search in two large databases (Proquest and EBSCO) for any articles in scholarly journals that had “community engagement” in their title, to identify which Journals had the most articles. I was surprised by the results.

In Proquest there were 742 results and in EBSCO 1198 results: a total of 1940. Both databases draw on a range of smaller databases so sometimes they identify the same article more than once and some journals are indexed in both databases, resulting in many duplicates. Once duplicates were removed there were 993 unique articles.

These 993 articles were in 652 different journals. Most of these journals, 510 of them, published only one article. The journals which had at least 5 articles were:

  1. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement (30 articles)
  2. Metropolitan Universities (17 articles)
  3. Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship (16 articles)
  4. Clinical And Translational Science (13 articles)
  5. Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, And Action (11 articles)
  6. Academic Medicine: Journal of The Association of American Medical Colleges (7 articles)
  7. American Journal of Public Health (7 articles)
  8. BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care (7 articles)
  9. Community Development Journal (7 articles)
  10. Journal of Psychology in Africa (7 articles – All from a special edition in 2002)
  11. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning (7 articles)
  12. Canadian Journal of University Continuing Education (6 articles)
  13. Communicating Nursing Research (6 articles)
  14. American Journal of Community Psychology (5 articles)
  15. Community Development (5 articles)
  16. Education + Training (5 articles – 4 from a special edition in 2011)
  17. Futures (5 articles – 4 from a special edition in 2011)
  18. Hispania: A Journal Devoted to the Teaching of Spanish and Portuguese (5 articles – 4 from a special edition in 2013)
  19. Journal of the American Board Of Family Medicine (5 articles)
  20. Maternal and Child Health Journal (5 articles)
  21. Planning Theory and Practice (5 articles)
  22. South African Journal of Higher Education (5 articles)
  23. The Health Service Journal (5 articles)

The focus of these journals is interesting. Nine of the journals focus on health; six focus on university—community engagement; two journals focus on each of education and training, psychology, and community development; and one focuses on each of planning and the future.


No. articles

No. journals

Health 66 9
University—community engagement 81 6
Community development 12 2
Psychology 12 2
School Education 10 2
Future 5 1
Planning 5 1

Although there were more journals that focused on health than university—community engagement, there were more articles in the journals focusing on universities. I was initially surprised by this until I realised that the people most likely to submit articles to scholarly journal are academics and so maybe it isn’t surprising that there are more articles about universities and community engagement.

Health also has a tradition of research and publishing so again it may not be surprising that it is an area with more articles.

What I find particularly surprising is that there weren’t more journals focusing on working with communities, planning or public administration.

When I look at material on the web and resources on community engagement, a big focus seems to be on community engagement in planning and decision-making. This focus did not come through in these journals.

There were journals that had published one or two articles, or even three or four, which had more of a focus I would have expected. Examples include:

  • National Civic Review (4 articles)
  • Australian Journal of Public Administration (3 articles)
  • Environment and Planning (2 articles)
  • Journal of Community Practice (2 articles)
  • Asia Pacific Journal of Public Administration (1 article)
  • Journal of Public Deliberation (1 article).

My small experiment does have limitations because there are many other terms that could be relevant (e.g., public participation, public engagement, community involvement) and there might be other articles about community engagement that didn’t have the actual words in their title.

To demonstrate this, there are 25 articles listed in the ProQuest data based that discuss (to some extent) the spectrum of public participation, but  only two of them were included in the original list of 993 articles found through the two databases. These 25 articles were in the following 22 journals, of which those marked with a * (13 of them) are not in the full list of journals developed through the above process:

  1. American Journal of Public Health
  2. American Water Works Association Journal*
  3. Applied Intelligence*
  4. Canadian Journal of Urban Research
  5. Climatic Change*
  6. Conservation and Society*
  7. Environmental Practice
  8. International Journal of Engineering Business Management*
  9. International Journal of Law in the Built Environment*
  10. International Journal of Public Administration
  11. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education*
  12. International Review of Public Administration*
  13. Journal of Business Ethics
  14. Journal of Coastal Conservation*
  15. Journal of Coastal Research*
  16. Journal of Public Deliberation (3 articles)
  17. PLoS ONE
  18. Public Administration and Management (2 articles)*
  19. Public Administration Review
  20. Race
  21. Systemic Practice and Action Research*
  22. Water Resources Management*

It seems that many people producing good material about community engagement for the web, are not publishing in scholarly journals. Clearly I don’t think scholarly articles are everything (I put far more time into my blog than writing for journals) but they do have a role.

It would be great to have more material published and for there to be more journals that focus on community engagement. For example, I think the community engagement triangle is quite useful, but it hasn’t been published (as far as I know).  It is referred to in a post on Bang the Table’s website, What is community engagement, exactly? and is available HERE.

It does take time, effort and discipline to write for scholarly journals but the peer review process is valuable and forces us to think more deeply about our work. I encourage you to take up the challenge.

Please let me us (through the comments below) which journals you use to find material on, or to publish about, community engagement.

You can see the full list of the 993 articles on community engagement from the search here. (In a Google Sheet with the year of publication, title, and journal.)

You can see the full list of the 652  journals which publish articles with “community engagement” in the title here.  (In a Google Sheet with the journal name and the number of articles.)

If you liked this post please follow my blog, and you might like to look at:

  1. An introduction to community engagement
  2. Definitions of community engagement
  3. Ethics and community engagement
  4. 3 types of community engagement (with related concepts and literature)
  5. A community engagement reading list
  6. 10 things I’ve learnt about strengths-based community engagement

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, environmentalist, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace, sustainability.
This entry was posted in Working with communities and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Journals publishing on community engagement

  1. colin hopkirk says:

    Good morning Graeme, always good to look in on your blog – on the subject of community engagement publications/academics, not sure if you have come across this, which is one of the better, more accessible ones i have found. Downloadable PDF


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