Volume 21 Issue 2 June 2012
An Impact factor and beyond...
*Aziz Sheikh, *Paul Stephenson
Accepted 17 May 2012 • Online 29 May 2012
Cite as: Sheikh A, Stephenson P. An Impact factor and beyond... Prim Care Respir J 2012;21(2):121-122. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4104/pcrj.2012.00047
* Correspondence: Tel: +44 (0)1461 600639, E-mails: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2012 Primary Care Respiratory Society UK. All rights reserved.
“What’s your journal’s Impact factor?” must rank amongst the commonest questions asked of journal editors, and our experience is no different. Although we still can’t quite answer this question, we are delighted to report that Thomson Reuters ISI has recently selected the PCRJ for inclusion in its Web-of-Science citation index listing and that the Journal has been awarded an Impact factor. The PCRJ’s first Impact factor will appear in the 2012 Journal Citation Reports (JCR) data which will be released in mid-2013 – so it’s not too long to wait now before we can indeed provide an answer…
However, discussions about Impact factors do tend to baffle some and polarise others.1 It is therefore important that we clarify what this means and (more importantly) offer some thoughts as to what this important juncture means for the Journal, our contributors and, above all, our global readership.
Thomson Reuters Web-of-Science covers nearly 12,000 of the world’s most important and influential journals in every area of the natural sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities.2 Each year the Thomson Reuters editors review over 2,000 journal titles and select around 10-12% of those journals which have been evaluated for inclusion in the Thomson Reuters database. Once awarded this coveted status, journals are constantly kept under review to ensure they are maintaining the highest editorial and publication standards, an internationally diverse authorship, and are continuing to publish relevant articles which are considered scientifically important and are consequently being cited.
The Impact factor was devised by Eugene Garfield, the founder of the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI – now part of Thomson Reuters) as a way of quantifying the citation process.3 It is frequently used as a proxy for the relative importance of a journal within its field. Impact factors are calculated yearly for those journals included in the Thomson Reuters JCR data, and show the average number of citations received in that year for each article published during the two preceding years. Our 2012 Impact factor will therefore be calculated as follows:
A = the number of times articles published in the PCRJ in 2010 and 2011 were cited by Thomson Reuters ISI-indexed journals during 2012.
B = the total number of "citable items" published by the PCRJ in 2010 and 2011. ("Citable items" are usually research articles and reviews, not editorials, correspondence or educational articles.)
The PCRJ 2012 Impact factor = A/B.
For example, an Impact factor of 2.0 (which is considered fairly respectable) means that papers published in 2010 and 2011 received on average two citations each in Thomson Reuters ISI-listed journals in 2012.
For the PCRJ, this strategic milestone helps to mark our continuing ascent4 and now firmly establishes us within the top-tier of medical journals internationally. We received a 33% increase in paper submissions between 2010 and 2011, and we suspect that the PCRJ will now increasingly be seen as a ‘first-choice’ journal when authors are considering where to submit their work. PCRJ submissions are not just from primary care researchers but also from secondary care specialists and others who are undertaking applied research of direct relevance to primary care populations, so we can probably expect this increase in submissions to continue year-on-year. In preparation for this, we will shortly be advertising for additional Associate Editors to ensure we continue to maintain our reputation for offering world-class, rapid peer-review of paper submissions.
We understand well the pressures that academics are under to publish in high impact journals, and whilst acknowledging the dangers of over-interpreting a simple metric we are confident that the PCRJ will increasingly be regarded by universities across the world as a top-tier journal. Although our first Impact factor will likely start at a relatively low level in this ‘Ivy League’ of journals, (it is unusual for a journal to obtain an Impact factor > 1.0 in its first year) the PCRJ is now one of only a dozen or so primary care journals included in Thomson Reuters’ Web-of-Science – and, as far as we are aware, is the only sub-specialty primary care journal to be awarded such recognition. Inevitably, this will mean that it becomes even more competitive to get published in the PCRJ. However, our rapid turnaround times – particularly in relation to a first decision – should (we hope) encourage authors to continue to send material for consideration, particularly if this is methodologically robust science tackling questions of real concern to front-line primary care clinicians and policymakers.
For readers, we remain absolutely committed to publishing high quality research and related expert commentary, correspondence and debate, which represents the breadth of respiratory and respiratory-related allergy seen by primary care practitioners globally. Being awarded an Impact factor does help in this respect, but we are keen to take things further. In particular, we want to use social media to aid readers in interpreting study findings by bringing them into closer contact with authors and facilitating virtual, global discussions about various PCRJ papers and what they mean. We will have more to say on this at the turn of the year, but in the meantime we are delighted to note that this issue marks the launch of the new “education@pcrj” section of the Journal. In the very capable hands of section editors Hilary Pinnock and Jaime Correia de Sousa, this new education section is a formal manifestation of the second of the PCRJ’s two aims,4 which we are sure will make an enormous contribution to bridging the gap between research and clinical practice. They present their plans for the future in their editorial on pg 133.5
We are very grateful to the PCRS-UK and the IPCRG, and the many organisations, institutions and individuals across the globe that have been fundamental in helping us achieve this important strategic goal. In particular, we thank all of our Assistant and Associate Editors and the members of the International Editorial Board for their support and expertise, and we again pay tribute to Mark Levy, Editor Emeritus, for his 15-year service as Editor-in-Chief and the legacy which he left.
The decision by Thomson-Reuters ISI to award the PCRJ an Impact factor is both timely and welcome. It now positions us to take a lead in advancing the frontiers of knowledge through publishing the very best research, discussion and debate on behalf of patients with respiratory problems worldwide. For a journal of record such as the PCRJ, this is the outcome that really matters…
Conflicts of interest The authors declare no relevant conflicts of interest in relation to this article.
1. Levy ML, on behalf of the editors of the Primary Care Respiratory Journal. Impact factor and its role in academic promotion. Prim Care Respir J 2009;13(3):127. http://dx.doi.org/10.4104/pcrj.2009.00051
2. Testa J. The Thomson Reuters Journal Selection Process (essay). http://thomsonreuters.com/products_services/science/free/essays/journal_selection_process/
3. Garfield E. Citation indexing – its theory and application in science, technology, and humanities. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1979
4. Stephenson P, Sheikh A. A tribute to the past, and plans for the future: helping to drive top quality primary care respiratory disease management worldwide. Prim Care Respir J 2011;20(1):1-3. http://dx.doi.org/10.4104/pcrj.2011.00013
5. Pinnock H, Correia de Sousa J. education@pcrj: the launch of a new initiative for the PCRJ. Prim Care Respir J 2011;21(2):133-4. http://dx.doi.org/10.4104/pcrj.2012.00048