The BIG difference between the Oxford Review and the Harvard Business Review

The BIG difference between the Oxford Review and the Harvard Business Review

I am often asked what the difference is between the Harvard Business Review and the Oxford Review…

There is quite a bit of a difference between HBR and The Oxford Review.

The first and most important difference is that the HBR doesn’t actually publish much in the way of research. Most of what it publishes are expert opinion pieces, not research. Many people confuse the two. The Oxford Review only publishes peer-reviewed research.

An expert opinion piece is an article where someone, usually with experience, explains how they see the world. The problem here is that the expert always has ‘skin in the game’. In other words they have a reason (often business) for their opinion. Most are consultants or business people and as such are selling something connected to the article.

Research on the other hand, particularly through universities, is as unbiased and objective as possible. The researchers have to declare if they have any funding or any other commercial interest in the research topic. This is not the case with the HBR.

This then leads on to issues of trust. The academic research publication system is roughly measured through something known as impact factor. It is based on a matrix of measures, the principle of which is how many times a particular journal has articles cited by other researchers and academics around the world. Whilst there are criticisms of the impact factor as a measure of importance, it is seen as a loose measure of trust and importance of the articles the journal publishes by researchers globally.

At the top of the tree is the Journal Nature with an impact factor of 41.25 (at the time of writing).
At the bottom is the HBR with an impact factor of 0.72.

Most of the articles in the HBR have little, if any, research validity or reliability. Indeed at the universities I teach at (Oxford, Oxford Brookes, Cardiff, Reading, Liverpool) students are actively dissuaded from using HBR as a research authority source in their assignments and theses. This is because the articles in the HBR have little, if any, research validity, reliability or veracity.

Additionally, unlike many other journals, the articles are not peer reviewed, which is the quality control system where other researchers in the field check the research to see if it is as valid and unbiased as possible – i.e. good research. Again peer review has its critics but it is part of the quality control process academic journals undergo that the HBR doesn’t.

The Oxford Review reviews actual research largely from high impact factor journals as opposed to opinion pieces. One of the reasons we publish the Research Intelligence Briefs, Infographics and Videos is to make the research accessible to practitioners without overloading them with masses of detail. We always publish the full reference and links to the journal articles so that practitioners can obtain the source research if they need to.

The editorial process at The Oxford Review is there purely to find useful and practical research and then make it accessible to practitioners who often don’t have the time to search and look through the approximately 78,000 peer-reviewed academic research studies published every month around the world. The second way we make the research accessible is by translating academic research language and jargon into the language of practitioners and human beings!

You may also like: What is the HBR impact factor?

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David Wilkinson

  • Dr. Alan Young says:

    This argument would have been so much more convincing had it had some references, rather than just a link to another Oxford Review article—just as we find in Harvard Business Review.

    It’s frustrating because I agree with what it written here about Harvard, but I would never use this article to support my view because, by its own argument, it has no academic credibility—it’s just a personal opinion piece. You could have at least referenced the sources for impact factors.

    We need people who can up the game here, not propagate poor practice.

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