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Measuring the scholarly and judicial impact of accredited legal journals in South Africa

Solomon Bopape


Legal scholarly journals are primarily written to influence those who read their content. Their influence is usually measured by counting the number of citations made of them in the subsequent articles and judicial publications. This study measured the impact of South African legal journals’ content, by counting the number of times these journals have been cited and mentioned in subsequent legal journal articles and judicial decisions (judgements) through the use of Google Scholar (GS) citations and Butterworth Lexis Nexis database respectively. The results of the study revealed variations in terms of the citation patterns of legal journals in legal scholarship and judicial rulings. The most heavily cited journals in South Africa are relatively new and disseminated through the open access mode, while journals which are highly cited by judges in judicial decisions or law reports appear to be those that have been in existence for a long time. Further research on the most influential legal journal articles and authors could perhaps improve the chances of South African legal journals being internationally recognised.

Keywords: Scholarly impact; judicial influence; citation counting; South Africa