Academics often judge themselves and are judged by others according to the status of the journals in which they publish. Little is known about whether individual scholars would choose to publish a paper in a high-status journal if it would garner similar or lower levels of scholarly impact than a paper published in a lower-status journal. Drawing upon status theory, we explore whether and how much business school academics are willing to ‘pay’, as captured by a hypothetical level of ‘forfeited’ citations, to publish in high-status 4* journals rather than leading specialized 4-rated journals. Using choice-set design and survey data from UK business and management scholars, we suggest and empirically demonstrate that the willingness to forgo citations to publish in 4* journals is strongest among academics who have already published in 4* and/or 4-rated journals. Contrary to our expectations, we find that an individual's existing scholarly impact, as captured by prior citations, has no effect on this preference. We also show that academics working in high-ranked institutions would give up more citations for 4* journal publication than those working at lower-ranked institutions. We explore the implications of these findings for theories of academic status, journal rankings and research assessment systems.