Siri Vinther, Jacob Rosenberg
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BACKGROUND: The impact factor (IF) is a common citation metric used for evaluating and comparing scientific journals within a certain field. Previous studies have shown that IFs are increasing. However, rates may depend on journal publication language.
The aim of this study was to determine IF values and trends for general medical journals, comparing non-English-language with English-language journals.
METHODS: For all journals categorised as “medicine, general and internal” (n = 150) in the Journal Citation Reports (JCR), publication language, country of origin and IFs for the last 10 years were recorded (2001–2010).
Data were classified, analysed descriptively and compared using non-parametric tests.
RESULTS: From 2001 to 2010, IFs increased for English-language and non-English-language journals (p <0.001). During the 10-year study period, IFs were higher for English-language than for non-English-language journals (p <0.001).
The proportion of non-English-language journals included in the JCR was 12.2% in 2001 and 18.0% in 2010 (p = 0.28).
INTERPRETATION: From 2001 to 2010, IFs increased significantly for English-language and non-English-language journals. When comparing IF values year-by-year (2001–2010), IFs were significantly higher for English-language than for non-English-language journals.
In an international scientific community with English as the universal language of science, non-English-language journals should consider changing publication language, and adopt either a bi- or a monolingual approach. Publishing in English will increase citation counts and thus IFs, but, more importantly, scientific findings will be accessible to a much wider audience.
Keywords: journals, publications, impact factor, language
Every year, Thomson Reuters publishes impact factors (IF) for more than 7,350 science journals in the Journal Citation Reports® (JCR) . The IF is used as a proxy measure for the relative importance of scientific journals, reflecting the relationship between citing and cited articles. More specifically, IF is the number of citations appearing in publications in a given year to articles published in a given journal in the previous two years, divided by the number of citable articles published in those two years . Previous studies have demonstrated that IFs are increasing [3–5], but rates may depend on publication language. Relatively few non-English-language journals are included in the JCR, but the non-English-language journals which are included seem to have lower IFs compared with English-language journals [6–16]. Despite being one of the largest subject categories in the JCR, IF values and trends for the JCR subject category “medicine, general and internal” – to which general medical journals belong – have not been studied thoroughly.
The aim of this study was to determine IF values and trends for general medical journals, comparing non-English-language with English-language journals as well as journals published in different continents.
All journals classified as “medicine, general & internal” in the JCR were analysed (150 journals in September 2011). For each journal, IFs for the last 10 years were recorded (2001–2010). Publication language and country of origin were also recorded.
Data were grouped into separate categories: language (English-language, non-English-language or multi-language) and continent of origin (North America, Europe, Australia, Africa, Asia and South America)).
Each category was analysed descriptively (number of journals, median IFs and IF inter-quartile range (IQR)).
For English-language, non-English-language and multi-language journals, Friedman’s test (the non-parametric equivalent to the one-way ANOVA with repeated measures) was used to test for IF trends. This was done for the time periods 2001–2010, 2001–2005, and 2006–2010.
For English-language, non-English-language and multi-language journals, Wilcoxon’s signed-ranks test (the non-parametric equivalent to the dependent t-test) was used to compare 2001-IFs with 2010-IFs.
For English-language versus non-English-language journals, Mann-Whitney U test (the non-parametric equivalent to the independent t-test) was used to compare IFs for all registered values during the study period 2001–2010 (year-by-year comparison).
The proportions of English-language versus non-English-language journals included in the JCR in 2001 and 2010 were compared using Fisher’s exact test.
For statistical analysis, we used IBM SPSS Statistics 19®.
Characteristics of the 150 journals classified as “medicine, general and internal” in the JCR are shown in tables 1a and 1b. IF trends for both categories (language and continent of origin) are shown in figures1a and 1b.
From 2001 to 2010 (and especially from 2008 onwards), the total number of journals included in the JCR increased (from 90 to 150). Increases were relatively higher for European, Asian and South-American journals as well as for non-English-language journals.
The proportion of non-English-language journals increased from 2001 to 2010 (from 12.2% [11/90] to 18.0% [27/150]) (p = 0.28). The four major non-English languages in 2010 were Spanish (21.4%), German (14.3%), Serbian (14.3%) and French (10.7%).
From 2001 to 2010, IFs varied significantly for English-language journals (p <0.001), non-English-language journals (p <0.001) and multi-language journals (p <0.001). From 2001–2005, IFs varied significantly for English-language journals (p <0.001) and for multi-language journals (p = 0.034) but not for non-English-language journals (p = 0.290). From 2006–2010, IFs varied significantly for all three language groups (p <0.001 for English-language and non-English-language journals; p = 0.005 for multi-language journals).
For all three language groups (English-language, non-English-language and multi-language journals), there was a significant difference between IFs in 2001 and IFs in 2010 (p <0.001 for English-language and non-English-language journals; p = 0.008 for multi-language journals).
When comparing all IF values year-by-year (English-language versus non-English-language journals), IFs were significantly higher for English-language journals (p <0.001).
|Table 1a: Characteristics of journals (classification: language).|
|No of journals||71||75||76||76||78||78||79||84||102||114|
|25% quartile IF||0.46||0.57||0.58||0.65||0.66||0.75||0.86||1.00||0.83||0.73|
|75% quartile IF||2.07||1.98||1.95||2.18||2.49||2.55||2.72||2.76||2.44||2.53|
|No of journals||11||10||10||11||11||11||11||12||19||27|
|25% quartile IF||0.22||0.30||0.26||0.25||0.26||0.28||0.28||0.32||0.16||0.13|
|75% quartile IF||0.40||0.40||0.44||0.47||0.41||0.45||0.48||0.60||0.51||0.47|
|No of journals||8||8||8||8||8||8||8||9||9||9|
|25% quartile IF||0.31||0.28||0.34||0.31||0.34||0.34||0.33||0.56||0.51||0.52|
|75% quartile IF||0.60||0.58||0.55||0.78||1.08||1.09||1.18||1.28||1.23||1.40|
|Total no of journals||90||93||94||95||97||97||98||105||130||150|
|Table 1b: Characteristics of journals (classification: continent of origin).|
|Number of journals||36||37||37||36||38||39||39||42||42||44|
|25% quartile IF||0.67||0.72||0.86||0.86||1.04||1.12||1.09||1.37||1.35||1.40|
|75% quartile IF||2.56||2.75||2.90||3.32||3.74||3.91||4.45||3.71||4.21||4.15|
|Number of journals||35||38||38||38||38||38||40||42||58||64|
|25% quartile IF||0.36||0.37||0.37||0.47||0.46||0.41||0.50||0.57||0.41||0.34|
|75% quartile IF||1.37||1.40||1.25||1.56||1.70||1.83||1.83||2.21||1.70||1.87|
|Number of journals||1||2||2||2||2||2||2||2||3||4|
|25% quartile IF||1.79||0.88||1.19||1.28||1.67||1.70||1.81||2.35||1.18||0.58|
|75% quartile IF||1.79||1.41||1.56||1.76||1.97||2.29||2.30||3.00||2.34||1.89|
|Number of journals||2||1||1||2||2||1||1||1||1||3|
|25% quartile IF||0.57||1.02||0.99||1.11||1.07||1.23||1.27||1.04||1.33||0.34|
|75% quartile IF||0.57||1.02||0.99||1.11||1.07||1.23||1.27||1.04||1.33||1.10|
|Number of journals||13||12||13||14||14||14||13||15||19||26|
|25% quartile IF||0.11||0.27||0.37||0.33||0.43||0.46||0.50||0.61||0.53||0.27|
|75% quartile IF||0.42||0.51||0.55||0.59||0.64||0.84||0.82||1.00||0.98||1.06|
|Number of journals||3||3||3||3||3||3||3||3||7||9|
|25% quartile IF||0.32||0.27||0.30||0.28||0.31||0.26||0.26||0.33||0.41||0.20|
|75% quartile IF||0.35||0.31||0.34||0.30||0.36||0.34||0.33||0.44||0.58||0.55|
|Total number of journals||90||93||94||95||97||97||98||105||130||150|
The main finding of this study was that non-English-language journals had significantly lower IFs than English-language journals. Although not significant, it is clear from the graphic presentation (fig.1a) that IFs of English-language journals have increased at a higher rate than those of non-English-language journals during the last decade. This could suggest that scientific findings published in non-English languages do not have the same international impact as those published in English.
From 2008, median IFs decreased for both categories (language and continent of origin). Thiscould be due to the large increase in the number of journals with relatively lower IFs (i.e., non-English-language journals and/or journals from “non-English-speaking” continents).
Within clinical medicine, several studies have examined different subject categories and possible associations between IF and language and/or continent of origin [6, 7, 9, 10, 13, 14]. In brief, findings suggest that IFs are increasing with rates depending on publication language and/or country of origin.
Trends for journals classified as “medicine, general and internal” have not been studied thoroughly, despite the fact that it is one of the largest subject categories in the JCR. One study demonstrated increasing IF trends for seven high-impact general medical journals . Another study analysed possible associations between 2003 IFs and publication language . This study concluded that IFs of English-language general medical journals were significantly higher than those of non-English-language journals.
In this study of general medical journals, IF values and trends over a ten-year period were analysed for different categories (language and continent of origin). Despite being more comprehensive than some previous studies, this one has some limitations, one of which may be that only general medical journals were included. Yet, IFs should not be used for comparison across different subject categories [5, 17, 18]. For instance, high IFs can be much more difficult to achieve in “small” specialities with few researchers, since the number of citations will be lower and there may be different citation traditions in different clinical fields.
The IF has been the subject of major debate ever since this citation metric was devised. Most people agree that the IF reflects journal popularity and prestige, but the use of the IF to evaluate journal quality has been heavily criticised. The criticism mainly concerns “citation inflation” and the fact that IFs can be editorially manipulated [2, 19, 20]. In brief, IF increases when the number of “cited” articles increases – and/or the number of “citable” articles decreases. As regards the former, some aspects are difficult to control: the amount of scientific literature is getting larger, reflecting the fact that the number of scientists as well as the number of scientific journals are increasing. Accessing scientific literature is getting easier because of “open access” and the fact that the quantity and quality of indexing and search engines are growing. Moreover, reference lists are getting longer: authors cite more articles and proportionately more of these citations are of recent articles (cf. the IF equation). In addition, trans-disciplinary citations and self-citations (authors citing their own previous work) are getting more common [18, 20–24].
Editorial policies that may affect IFs include recruitment or selection of popular/controversial researchers whose articles will receive special attention and thus more citations. Favouring large and scientifically active research groups, thus increasing the potential for author self-citation, will also increase IF. Moreover, selecting specific article types or articles with specific outcomes are other options: review articles generally receive more citations compared with original articles and especially case reports, and articles with favourable outcomes receive more citations than negative or confirmatory studies. Reducing publication volume and/or publishing fewer “citable” articles will also increase the IF (it is not known how “citable” articles are defined by Thomson Reuters; however, publications without an abstract and/or with a limited number of references are generally not regarded as citable [e.g. editorials, letters to editors and errata]). Finally, changing publication language into English will expand a journal's readership and thus the potential for receiving more citations [5, 25–28].
The importance of publication language for journal visibility is interesting. Relatively few non-English-language journals are included in the JCR. The inclusion criteria of the JCR are not official, but publication language and thus international orientation are important parameters. Thomson Reuters states that the JCR is not and should not be “all-inclusive”, albeit “comprehensive”: “English is the universal language of science at this time in history. It is for this reason that Thomson Reuters focuses on journals that publish full text in English or at the very least the bibliographical information in English. […] However, going forward, it is clear that the journals most important to the international research community will publish full text in English” .
This declaration is somewhat in contrast to the fact that the number of non-English-language journals included increased by 145% from 2007 to 2010 (after having been stagnating during the previous six years, cf. table 1). Also, the proportion of non-English-language journals to English-language journals increased, though not significantly. It seems that Thomson Reuters has found it necessary to moderate their inclusion criteria, given the scale of criticism of the (previous) “exclusive” focus. There may also be a financial incentive to include journals, regardless of international orientation. It should however be mentioned that the increase in the number of non-English-language journals included may also reflect the fact that non-English-language journals do play an important role in the scientific community – and that scientific work published in non-English languages does have an impact.
Of course, non-English-language journals with high local circulations and established readerships are of great utility in disseminating knowledge of national/local importance. But publishing in a non-English language simply does not make sense if the ambition is to reach an international readership. Non-English-language journals are underrepresented in bibliographical indexing databases (such as MEDLINE, Embase etc.) and this means that articles published in these non-indexed journals are not accessible to (or citable for) a wider audience [16, 23].
Apart from the fact that scientific work published in English is cited more often, authors prefer to submit to high-impact and thus English-language journals . Whether or not IF is accepted as a valid measure of a journal’s scientific quality, one must assume that articles published in these high-impact journals are generally associated with higher quality.
For the reasons given above, non-English-language journals desirous of contributing to the international pool of knowledge should consider changing publication language, adopting either a bi- or a monolingual approach. Publishing in English (possibly in addition to the national language) will increase journal visibility, expand readership and thus increase the potential number of citations.
The potential increase in IFs (or potential inclusion in the JCR) might have been a contributing factor for national journals that have already changed publication language into English [15, 31–33]. However, increasing IFs should not be the sole argument for changing publication language. From an ethical perspective, it could be argued that original research findings should not be published in small, local/national languages and thus “hidden” from the international scientific community . Instead, authors and editors should seek to communicate original research findings to as many readers as possible.
In conclusion, this study demonstrated that non-English-language general medical journals had significantly lower IFs than English-language general medical journals. In an international scientific community with English as the universal language of science, non-English-language journals should consider changing publication language, adopting either a bi- or a monolingual approach. Publishing in English will increase citation counts and thus IFs, but, more importantly, scientific findings will be rendered accessible to a much wider audience.
Funding / potential competing interests: No financial support and no other potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.
Correspondence: Siri Vinther, MS, Department of Surgery, Herlev Hospital, University of Copenhagen, DK-2730 Herlev, Denmark, sirivinther[at]hotmail.com
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Which medical journal has the highest impact factor? ›
- New England journal of medicine.
- JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association.
- BMJ. British medical journal.
- Nature reviews disease primers.
- Annals of internal medicine.
- JAMA internal Medicine.
- Journal of travel medicine.
- Lancet digital health.
An impact factor shows the number of times articles in a journal have been cited in a year. Medical journals with high impact factors are more influential in a general or specific area of medicine.Are medical journals credible? ›
Medical Journals: Major journals typically serve as reliable sources, as they use expert peer-reviewers to vet medical research and conclusions prior to publication. Building and maintaining their reputation and credibility is often one of the foremost priorities of a journal's editorial board.Do doctors read medical journals? ›
There are now dozens of journals that publish research that is relevant to a specific practice, and many now publish weekly. The average physician does not receive a physical copy of a journal at their office or home, but instead, receives email notifications of new issues.Which medical journal is easiest to publish? ›
- Journal of Biomedical Sciences. Approx. Time to Publication: ~ 1 month. ...
- Journal of Biomedical Science. Approx. ...
- Translational Biomedicine. Approx. ...
- Journal of Clinical Medicine. Approx. ...
- Medical Physics. Approx. ...
- Biofactors. Approx.
In most fields, the impact factor of 10 or greater is considered an excellent score while 3 is flagged as good and the average score is less than 1.Which Elsevier journal has the highest impact factor? ›
1. The Lancet. The Lancet was founded in 1823 in England. With the commitment to publish only the best in medicine, their papers are read by roughly 12.5 million people worldwide.Is impact factor a good measure of journal quality? ›
Abstract. Objectives: Impact factor, an index based on the frequency with which a journal's articles are cited in scientific publications, is a putative marker of journal quality. However, empiric studies on impact factor's validity as an indicator of quality are lacking.What is the most respected medical journal? ›
The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) is recognized as the world's leading medical journal and website. Published continuously for over 200 years, NEJM delivers high-quality, peer-reviewed research and interactive clinical content to physicians, educators, researchers, and the global medical community.Is Elsevier a credible journal? ›
Elsevier is a leading publisher of some of the most well-respected science journals in the world. Hence publishing a research in Elsevier will be widely disseminated. Because of this, Elsevier journals are a smart choice for scientific authors. Elsevier journals also have a high journal impact factor overall.
How do I know if a journal is good? ›
- Where is it indexed? Is the journal included or indexed in the major bibliographic databases for the field? ...
- What is its publishing history? How long has the journal been available? ...
- Is it peer-reviewed? ...
- What is its impact factor?
Unblinded peer review might suffer from positive or negative bias towards certain authors, specialties, and institutions. Peer review can also suffer when editors and/or reviewers might be unable to understand the contents of the submitted manuscript.Do medical journals make money? ›
There are many comparatively minor journals that have an annual income of a million pounds. (I have never seen the accounts of the New England Journal of Medicine, but its annual income will be tens of millions of dollars and probably close to $100m.)What is a predatory medical journal? ›
Predatory journals are open-access medical journals that publish articles online with little or no peer review, low academic standards, and little credibility. They exist to publish scholarly journal articles for authors who require publications for their curricula vitae.Which journals publish quickly? ›
- Turkish Journal of Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation (TJPR) – Q4 Ranking.
- ECS Transactions (IOP Series)
- IEEE Xplore (Conference series)
- Experimental Oncology – Q4 Ranking.
- Journal of Experimental Biology and Agricultural Sciences (JEBAS) – Q4 Ranking.
Tier 1: Peer-reviewed academic publications
Scholarly articles appear in academic journals, which are published multiple times a year to share the latest research findings with scholars in the field. They're usually sponsored by an academic society.
The research publication process isn't easy, and rejection is common. You may need to submit your paper to multiple journals and take your paper through many revisions before it's finally published, Dr. Galper said. “Each peer-reviewed rejection or revision of your paper can make it stronger,” he said.Does impact factor really matter? ›
Impact factor is commonly used to evaluate the relative importance of a journal within its field and to measure the frequency with which the “average article” in a journal has been cited in a particular time period. Journal which publishes more review articles will get highest IFs.Is impact factor 2.5 good? ›
So, a journal with an IF of 2-2.5 would be considered having a higher impact than these journals. A journal with an IF of 5 or above would be considered high-impact, but note that these would be fewer in number. Most journals actually fall in the combined category of an IF of 1-2.What is the difference between impact score and impact factor? ›
cite score is from scopus and Impact factor is from data of web of science but cite score measuring on 3 years data while impact factor is from two years data.
What is the impact factor of Elsevier? ›
You can either refer to the Scopus® database to find the impact score of the journal. The data from the Scopus® database can also be found at resurchify.com. You can find the impact score of thousands of journals on this website.Is 6 a good impact factor for a journal? ›
The top 5% of journals have impact factors approximately equal to or greater than 6 (610 journals or 4.9% of the journals tracked by JCR).Which is better Scopus or Elsevier? ›
Elsevier is a publisher, and Scopus is article database provided by Elsevier. Not all journal from Elsevier is indexed in Scopus, and not all articles in Scopus come from Elsevier's journals. Scopus is more general, could from journal from other publishing companies.What is the impact factor of Springer? ›
|Title||Springer Optimization and Its Applications|
|SCImago Journal Rank (SJR)||0.306|
|Publisher||Springer International Publishing AG|
Journal impact factor (which reflects a particular journal's quality) and H index (which reflects the number and quality of an author's publications) are two measures of research quality. It has been argued that the H index outperforms the impact factor for evaluation purposes.Which research journal has the highest impact factor? ›
- Pertanika Journal of Science & Technology.
- Informing Science: The International Journal of an Emerging.
- International Journal of Engineering Trends and Technology.
- Materials Today: Proceedings.
- Empirical Economics Letters.
- Acta Innovations.
Reason number three is that research in higher Impact Factor journals is considered to be more credible by most researchers, and also by reporters that write science journalism and report on new publications and by hiring committees etc.How do you find the highest impact factor for a journal? ›
Impact Factors for scientific journals can be found in the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) database, which is available from the Research Medical Library. You can view all journals at once, search for a specific journal title or choose a group of journals by subject area.What is a high quality journal? ›
These are typically journals, from reputable publishers, who have most (if not all) of their journals listed in Web of Science so it is a reasonable expectation that they will try and get their new journal listed.
What makes a good medical journal great? ›
So, what makes a good journal great? First and foremost, there is the team of dedicated and highly qualified editors who provide valuable guidance on the journal contents. In addition, there are manuscript authors, equally important as the editors.What is the most credible medical source? ›
- Medline Plus | medlineplus.gov.
- PubMed Central | ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
- Center for Disease Control | cdc.gov.
- Mayo Clinic Health Information | mayoclinic.com/health-information.
- CAPHIS: Consumer & Patient Health Information Section | mlanet.org/caphis.
- Merck Manuals | merckmanuals.com.
Both Elsevier and Springer are great publishers with many good journals. Frontiers is also becoming a big giant in the field. From my personal experience, articles of the same quality in Elsevier are usually more cited than in Springer, even when they are both open access.Is Scopus owned by Elsevier? ›
Scopus – is an international, globally recognized multidisciplinary bibliographic database (DB), which was launched in 2004, and is owned by Elsevier company, also known as one of the major publisher of scientific literature.Is Springer a credible journal? ›
They are subject to high-level peer review, author and production services ensuring quality and reliability of the work. Authors publishing with SpringerOpen retain the copyright to their work, licensing it under a Creative Commons license.What time of day is best to journal? ›
Morning is the optimal time of day for stream-of-consciousness daily practice. Your morning brain is fresh. Write your pages before you fill your head with any outside influences. 6.What is the perfect journal size? ›
A6 Notebook Is the Best Size for Journaling
Journal sizes give you enough space to write, and you can keep it easily. Business owners can use it to take meeting notes, create to-do lists, and keep track of appointments. In millimeters, the A6 notebook size is 105 × 148 mm.
While some can write for hours at a time, researchers say that journaling for at least 15 minutes a day three to five times a week can significantly improve your physical and mental health.What percentage of journal articles are rejected? ›
As you may have read in the article on desk rejection, depending on the journal, between 40%–75% of submitted manuscripts receive desk rejection.Is PubMed a predatory journal? ›
PubMed has been reported to include some articles published in predatory journals. MEDLINE and PubMed policies for the selection of journals for database inclusion are slightly different.
Do most journals accept resubmission of rejected papers? ›
Yes. In fact, some journals encourage resubmission after some months. But such resubmission would have addressed concerns from the previous review. In some other cases, Editor can request that a resubmission should have about 50% changes.How much do journal editors get paid? ›
While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $97,000 and as low as $14,500, the majority of Journal Editor salaries currently range between $37,000 (25th percentile) to $63,000 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $79,500 annually across the United States.Do journal editors make money? ›
“For most chemistry journals, the editor and associate editors receive some financial compensation for handling manuscripts and for travel representing the journal; however, compensation is generally minimal relative to the time invested in performing their editor duties.”Who are the top 5 journal publishers? ›
|2||Taylor & Francis||2,912|
Scientific and academic publisher Reed Elsevier released six journals that were found to feature falsified peer reviews. These peer reviews were paid for by pharmaceutical companies, including pharma giant Merck. Elsevier has also been involved in other scandals, including being accused of publishing racist content.How do I know if a journal is predatory? ›
- Always check the website thoroughly. ...
- Check if the journal is a member of DOAJ, COPE, OASPA or STM. ...
- Check the journal's contact information. ...
- Research the editorial board. ...
- Take a look at their peer review process and publication timelines. ...
- Read through past issues of the journal.
Overview: Published for over 200 years, The New England Journal of Medicine aims to bring the best research to clinicians and health educators. It has the highest impact factor of any general medical journal in the world.Is 2.5 a good impact factor? ›
So, a journal with an IF of 2-2.5 would be considered having a higher impact than these journals. A journal with an IF of 5 or above would be considered high-impact, but note that these would be fewer in number. Most journals actually fall in the combined category of an IF of 1-2.How do you know if a journal is respected? ›
- Where is it indexed? Is the journal included or indexed in the major bibliographic databases for the field? ...
- What is its publishing history? How long has the journal been available? ...
- Is it peer-reviewed? ...
- What is its impact factor?
The idea that research could be described as '4*' came from the UK's Research Excellence Framework (REF). Four-star research is 'world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour'.