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Posts Tagged ‘Impact Factor’

16 April 2014  |  Posted in Impact of article, Publication  |  Comment on this post »

The relative importance of most academic journals is measured by what’s called their “impact factor,” or IF. Impact factor in an academic measure is simply a measure that reflects the average number citations made in various media, online and academic journals and similar publications to recent articles published in the subject journal. Essentially, an academic journal with a high IF is one that many publications and expert cite. Academic journals possessing a high impact factor are deemed more important, and thus deserving of more attention and consideration, than journals having lower impact factors. Academic journals that are indexed in the “Journal Citation Reports,” an annual publication, are assessed for IF annually. Some high impact factor journals and my experience with them make for an interesting tale.

high impact factor journalHigh Impact Factor and Selectivity
Academic journals with a high IF, by their nature, can afford to be more selective, especially as they seem to attract more submissions from more authors and researchers eager to see their works widely cited. If you can land an academic research paper in the proper academic journal, meaning one with a high impact factor, your own peer reviewed and accepted article may be cited more frequently, for one. Managing to place one of your papers in the right high-IF journal, then will draw more attention to your work, and with more attention may come more research funding from various government and private foundation, as well as industry, sources.

Of course, the downside to submitting a paper to a high impact factor journal is also, maddeningly enough, the very same selectivity that attracted you to it in the first place. Peer review may be measurably more difficult in high IF journals and take longer than is the case at academic journals possessing lower impact factors. But chancing not only rejection as well as a lengthy wait when submitting an article or paper to a high-IF journal is sometimes worth it, because journals with high impact factors also seem to enjoy a longer citation life cycle as regards accepted and subsequently published article. In other words an article you place in an academic journal scored with a high impact factor may be cited by others for quite some time, improving the potential for your renown and your ability to attract research funding. But never lose sight of that fact that selectivity among high impact factor journals may subject you to a high degree of anxiousness, questions from journal reviewers and editors and an assortment of helpful “suggestions. At least, that’s been my experience so far.

Low Impact Factor and Better Treatment
No one in the academic world, at least no one of respectable reputation, would ever say that an academic journal with a lower IF rating is any less valuable than one with a higher IF. There was also once a motto by a very large American car rental agency: “We’re number 2. We try harder.” Meaning they worked that much harder to attract customers, owing partly to their desire to escape second place and supplant the number 1 car rental agency. In certain instances, dealing with lower-IF academic journals when submitting a paper or article for publication is like experiencing the solicitude put forth by a competitor car rental agency trying to take over the number 1-rated spot. Lesser impact factor journals may work harder to attract quality articles and papers in order to improve their IF, and will work more collegially with authors and researchers, or at least promise to, in order to attract quality work.

They May be Lower Impact Factor for a Reason
Of course, there’s sometimes a good reason for why a particular academic journal may possess a lower impact factor rating than similar or peer journals out there. Perhaps a low-IF academic journal just isn’t interested in leaving its comfortable little niche, or in risking a carefully grown, though somewhat obscure, reputation by promoting its published articles outside of a select coterie of individuals? It happens.
I’ve also submitted papers and articles to both high impact factor journals and low-IF journals and experienced sometimes completely different treatment at the hands of a high- and then a low-IF journal. But I’ve also experienced superior treatment at a low-IF journal and, at best, studied disregard at a high-IF journal, and vice-versa. There sometimes seems to be no rhyme or reason to the academic journal article submission and publication system.

18 December 2012  |  Posted in General, Impact of article  |  Comment on this post »

For maximum impact, a researcher would like to publish articles in the most prestigious journals

*data in the above figure is only indicative and may or may not represent exact values


How are journals rated? One simple but controversial method is Impact Factor (IF), published by Thomson Reuters, which calculates the average number of citations per article during the previous two years. The more citations the articles receive from other researchers, the more important they are considered to be and the more prestigious the journal that publishes them.

There are some obvious problems with this calculation. Does the number of citations really indicate the significance of an article? Remember the debacle over cold fusion? In the year following its 1989 publication, a supposedly revolutionary paper by Pons and Fleischmann was the most cited paper in the world. But soon afterwards the cold fusion bubble burst—no one could reproduce the reported results. But during the heyday of the cold fusion mania, anyone consulting the IF would conclude that Pons and Fleischmann had written the most important paper of the year and the journal that published their paper was the most prestigious in the world.

Does IF measure the impact of a paper? Or does it measure the “buzz” created by a sensational find, which may be overblown? There are also possibilities of abuse from editors and authors who have found ways to game the system to publish papers that generate high levels of citations. An editor might require an author to insert unnecessary self-citations before accepting the paper. Some authors have a habit of giving courtesy citations to colleagues as a professional favor. On the flip side, some authors vengefully refuse to cite competitors, either through pique or in an attempt to skew IF numbers in their favor. The latter practice goes back at least as far as Isaac Newton, who 300 years before IF, revised one of his manuscripts to delete references to his hated rival Robert Hooke.

Nevertheless IF is here to stay, because the alternatives are no better. How about setting up a team of impartial experts to evaluate journal articles for their quality? But where do you find impartial experts? Will a reviewer be tempted to favor a journal edited by a friend and colleague, or one in which he publishes regularly? What about the specter of bribery? IF dispenses with a small number of elites in favor of letting the scientific community as a whole decide the value of a paper. The community can be fooled in the short run, but gets it right eventually. When Gregor Mendel published his 1866 paper “Experiments on Plant Hybridization,” it was almost ignored by the scientific community and was cited only three times in the next 35 years. During this time IF would have given this paper a near zero rating, but today Mendel’s paper is one of the most consistently cited in genetics and is justly considered a seminal work in the history of the field.

This post was written by William Stevenson, an English editor with Enago based out of the USA.

28 October 2010  |  Posted in Choice of journal, Impact of article  |  4 Comments »

Journals have differing recognition factors, which can be specific to a field or applicable across multiple disciplines. The quality and impact of the journal is usually apparent through how widely it is read, how often it is cited, and its perception in the community. The quality and impact can be quantified in terms of various widely-accepted parameters, among others the Impact Factor, SCImago Journal Rank, Article Influence and H-Index, which are described in brief in this post. In general, these parameters are based on the number of citations received for articles published in the respective journal as compared to others.

The Impact Factor is calculated over a three-year period and represents the average number of times papers are cited up to two years after publication. For example, the Impact Factor of a journal for the year 2009 would be the ratio of the number of times articles published in that journal during 2007-08 were cited in indexed journals (part of a predefined selection) during 2009 to the number of articles published in 2007-08.

SCImago Journal & Country Rank

A typical example of SJR and citation data

The SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) is a scale which orders journals based on the average number of weighted citations received by an article in the chosen year divided by the number of manuscripts published in the journal during the previous three years.

The Article Influence quantifies the average influence in a period of five years following the publication of the article. It is the ratio of the EigenFactor score of the journal to the number of articles in the journal, normalized as a fraction of all articles from among a predefined selection of over 7000 journals. The Eigenfactor score is determined using the number of times an article has been cited in the previous five years, and is weighted in favor of highly cited journals, with self-citations being excluded. The mean value of the Article Influence score is 1.0, with a value greater or lesser than 1.0, indicative of above-average or below-average influence, respectively.

The H-index was suggested by Jorge E. Hirsch, and is a measure of the scientific output of a research entity. It can be applied to scientists, research groups, institutions or countries. For example, a researcher has an index equal to H if he/she has published N papers and H of these papers have greater than or equal to H citations, while the rest have less than or equal to H citations. The H-index takes into account both the number of publications and citations, and is a quite useful alternative to conventional approaches for quantifying impact.

Typically, researchers prefer to publish in “high-impact” journals since that assures them of a better and a wider audience, and also leads to advancement of their career and research funding. However, the downside is that due to the high volume of articles submitted to such journals, the rejection rates tend to be high. Therefore it is quite important to select the most appropriate journal for publication by optimizing between the quality of the article submitted and the recognition factor of the journal. This contributes toward maximizing the impact of the article for the given situation.

This post was written by William Stevenson, an English editor with Enago based out of the USA.

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