Latest Changes in Journal Impact Factor


View:1399 Time:2018-08-17


In mid-June each year, numerous master and doctoral students, college teachers, researchers and scientists, and other professionals are eagerly looking forward to the release of the impact factor (IF) index (total citation number divided by total number of articles). At this time, data companies will announce the latest IF reports of all academic journals. The IFs of these journals may determine whether students pursuing their master or doctor degrees could graduate smoothly and whether college faculty members could be promoted or get bonuses. IF scores are very important, especially for graduate students majoring in medicine, biology, and related disciplines. The ups and downs of IF scores will probably impact their fate in the coming year.

IF not only influences people who write and submit articles for publication such as master and doctoral students, but also influences journal editors and publishers. If a journal's IF declines too fast and too much (lower than 3), it will be less likely to receive high-quality articles in the near future. The sharp drop in article quality will directly impact IF of the journal in the next year, because these articles are less likely to be cited by paper authors. So, an IF of 3 is generally considered a warning line.

If IF is related to your study or career, it's not a bad thing to know more about it. This article will cover these topics:

1. What is the impact factor?

Impact factor (IF), also known as journal impact factor (JIF), is a measure used to reflect the average numbers of citations to articles published in journals or other approved documents. It helps evaluate the citation frequency of articles in a journal as well as the rank and importance of a journal.

2. How is the impact factor calculated?

The calculation of impact factor is based on a two-year period and involves dividing the number of times articles were cited by the number of articles that were published in a journal.

A text description may be less clear compared with an equation. Please look at the equation below:

IFy = Cy-1+Cy-2

Py-1+Py-2

Notes:
y: A given year
IF: The impact factor of a journal in a given year
C: The number of citations articles received in a given year
P: The number of articles published in a journal in a specific year

Let's take the prestigious journal Nature as an example to better understand how IF is calculated. If you want to calculate the IF of Nature in 2014, you should first know the total number of articles published in Nature in 2013 (P2013=860) and the times of citations these articles received in 2014 (C2013=29753), and the total number of articles published in Nature in 2012 (P2012=869) and the times of citations these articles received in 2014 (C2012=41924). Next, bring the four numbers into the equation:

IF2014 = C2013+C2012 = 27953+41924 = 41.456


P2013+P2012 860+869

Through calculation, we find that the IF of the journal Nature in 2014 is 41.456, meaning that, on average, its papers published in 2012 and 2013 received roughly 41 citations each in 2014.

It must be pointed out that the 2014 IF scores were reported in 2015, because their calculation requires the use of publishing data throughout the year of 2014. Many companies calculate IF, and currently the most famous and most authoritative is probably Clarivate Analytics, the provider of the online citation indexing service Web of Science.

3. What is the influence of impact factor?

It has been more than four decades since IF was first calculated in 1975. Due to its long history, IF has well-established authority and is extensively used by people and institutions in the research field. IF provides an important metric to determine the quality of scientific journals and to rank journals in each research field. If you publish your paper in a high-IF journal, your paper is more likely to be cited by others.

However, there are increasing criticisms about the use of IF. First of all, IF reports released by data companies might not be independently audited. This raises a question: are these reports reliable? Secondly, the validity of IF as a measure of the quality of journal is also in debate. Finally, IF helps measure the quality of journal but does not necessarily reflect the quality of the article. Many factors such as whether the paper is open access will influence its citation.

In some cases, the importance of IF is exaggerated. To increase IF, journal editors may change their editorial policies and choose to publish more articles that are generally cited more often, such as review articles. In some colleges, universities and institutions with strong research ability in life sciences, a student pursuing their doctor degree is often required to publish a research paper in a journal with an IF higher than 5, and the student must be the first author. In some cases, an IF higher than 4 or 3 is required. No matter an IF of 5, 4, or 3 is required, it indeed puts stress on students. Likewise, college teachers and hospital doctors may also face this stress. Colleges, universities, and institutions may set a goal of publishing a number of articles in high-IF journals to promote their recognition and ranking.

Overall, IF must be used carefully. Neither exaggerating the value of IF nor denying its value is recommended.

4. What are the latest changes in impact factors of famous journals, particularly those in biomedicine?

Clarivate Analytics released the 2017 Journal Citation Reports in June, 2018, which really affect the sensitive nerve of many people. Let's see the changes and trends in IFs of major scientific journals.

4.1 The top 20 journals in 2017 are largely the same as that in 2016

The top 20 journals on the list always seem to be changing very little. When the top 20 list changes occasionally, people don't really care about. When a journal's IF is higher than 20, it has no significance in talking about its scores, since such as a journal generally has very high qualities. Who cares about whether the IF of Cell, Nature, or Science (collectively known as CNS) is increased or decreased by 1?

Table 1. Top 20 Journals in the 2017 Journal Citation Reports

Rank Full Journal Title 2017 IF
1 CA-A CANCER JOURNAL FOR CLINICIANS 244.585
2 NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE 79.258
3 LANCET 53.254
4 CHEMICAL REVIEWS 52.613
5 Nature Reviews Materials 51.941
6 NATURE REVIEWS DRUG DISCOVERY 50.167
7 JAMA-JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION 47.661
8 Nature Energy 46.859
9 NATURE REVIEWS CANCER 42.784
10 NATURE REVIEWS IMMUNOLOGY 41.982
11 NATURE 41.577
12 NATURE REVIEWS GENETICS 41.465
13 SCIENCE 41.058
14 CHEMICAL SOCIETY REVIEWS 40.182
15 NATURE MATERIALS 39.235
16 Nature Nanotechnology 37.490
17 LANCET ONCOLOGY 36.418
18 REVIEWS OF MODERN PHYSICS 36.367
19 NATURE BIOTECHNOLOGY 35.724
20 NATURE REVIEWS MOLECULAR CELL BIOLOGY 35.612

You can compare them with the Top 20 Journals in the 2016 Journal Citation Reports, and will find that except for Nature Reviews Materials and Nature Energy, all the eighteen journals that are present in the 2017 top 20 list also exist in the 2016 top 20 list.

Table. 2 Top 20 Journals in the 2016 Journal Citation Reports

Rank Full Journal Title 2016 IF
1 CA-A CANCER JOURNAL FOR CLINICIANS 187.040
2 NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE 72.406
3 NATURE REVIEWS DRUG DISCOVERY 57.000
4 CHEMICAL REVIEWS 47.928
5 LANCET 47.831
6 NATURE REVIEWS MOLECULAR CELL BIOLOGY 46.602
7 JAMA-JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION 44.405
8 NATURE BIOTECHNOLOGY 41.667
9 NATURE REVIEWS GENETICS 40.282
10 NATURE 40.137
11 NATURE REVIEWS IMMUNOLOGY 39.932
12 NATURE MATERIALS 39.737
13 Nature Nanotechnology 38.986
14 CHEMICAL SOCIETY REVIEWS 38.618
15 Nature Photonics 37.852
16 SCIENCE 37.205
17 NATURE REVIEWS CANCER 37.147
18 REVIEWS OF MODERN PHYSICS 36.917
19 LANCET ONCOLOGY 33.900
20 PROGRESS IN MATERIALS SCIENCE 31.140

CA-Cancer J Clin, short for CA-A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, is a professional oncology journal published by the American Cancer Society for all doctors. CA-Cancer J Clin, which has been the No. 1 in the list of IF reports since 2008, has been firmly in the top of the list this year. The latest IF released this year is 244.585, breaking the two hundred mark, which is a high record compared with 187.04 last year.

Table. 3 No. 1 Journal in the Journal Citation Reports

Full Journal Title 2017 IF 2016 IF
CA-A CANCER JOURNAL FOR CLINICIANS 244.585 187.040

4.2 For research journals in life sciences, changes in IF should not be overlooked.

Speaking of CNS sub-journals, there are several things that are worth notice this year.

The IF of Cell Metabolism goes beyond 20 points (20.565) for the first time, which is inseparable from the research heat in metabolism, particularly tumor metabolism, in recent years. As the metabolism field is becoming more and more popular, Nature group has recently launched a new issue, Nature Metabolism, but Science does not intend to establish an issue for metabolism.

Cancer Cell faces a depressing change (27.407 to 22.844), and its first position in cancer journal list is overtaken by Cancer Discovery (20.011 to 24.373). Cancer Discovery rarely publishes a Chinese scholar's article, with an average of no more than 2 articles a year. There is a considerable decrease in the quality of some of the articles recently published in Cancer Cell, some people claimed. This may explain why the IF of Cancer Cell decreases so much.

Science Advances, the sub-journal of Science, has a good score of 11.511 for its first appearance in the reports. The score is more stunning than the first appearance of Nature Communications previously. At present, the IF of Nature Communications is stable at about 12 points. Science Advances has great potential in the future, is sure to slowly attract more scholars to contribute, and may take away some sources of papers from Nature Communications.

Compared with the open access (OA) journals launched by Nature and Science, Cell Reports of Cell keeps a stable IF (about 8), which slightly decreases this year. But biology-associated articles published in Cell Reports are not really worse than those in Nature Communications and Science Advances, many people believe. Besides, the journal eLife should not be ignored given that its IF is often very close to that of Cell Reports. In addition, the IF of EMBO Journal has risen, and now is higher than 10 (10.557).

Nature Microbiology's first IF after appearance is higher than 14 points, making it the most valuable new journals in microbiology. ISME J is probably one of the most well-recognized journals in microbiology, and the IF of Cell Host & Microbe has risen to 17.872 this year, nearly 3 points higher than the previous year. From the two journals above, we can find that microbiology, especially the area of pathogenic microbes, is also a hot research field recently.

For journals in genomics, Genome Biology and Genome Research are always catching up with each other. In the past, Genome Research usually scored higher. But this year it is Genome Biology that wins the game: Genome Biology rises from 11.908 to 13.214, while Genome Research drops from 11.922 to 10.1.

You may be not unfamiliar to the journal Autophagy, which has published impressive studies on autophagy. The IF of Autophagy has risen from 8.593 last year to 11.100 this year. This change is not beyond the expectation because Autophagy has updated its guidelines.

The open access journal EBioMedicine jointly supported by The Lancet and Cell gets its IF for the first time. That is 6.183, which is quite good. The IF of Developmental Cell increases by about 0.5, reaching 9.616, which is a good momentum. The IF of Genes & Development increases by 0.3, reaching 9.462. The IF of PNAS declines by about 0.15, down to 9.504, which is relatively stable.

Although Cell has a big journal known as Cell Stem Cell, one journal seems to be unable to meet the increasing publishing requirements due to the research heat in stem cell fields in recent years. Stem Cells, an old stem cell journal, is still in the doldrums, whose IF is currently only 5.587.

The IF of PLoS One continues to fall, down to 2.766. The IF of Scientific Reports drops to 4.122. The IF of Oncotarget, which was higher than 5 last year, has not been released this year. The IF of Medicine rebounds from 1.803 to 2.028.

Table. 4 Top Research Journals in Biomedicine

Full Journal Title 2017 IF 2016 IF
NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE 79.258 72.406
LANCET 53.254 47.831
JAMA-JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION 47.661 40.405
NATURE 41.577 40.137
SCIENCE 41.058 37.205
LANCET ONCOLOGY 36.418 33.900
NATURE BIOTECHNOLOGY 35.724 41.667
NATURE MEDICINE 32.621 29.886
CELL 31.398 30.410
LANCET NEUROLOGY 27.138 26.284
NATURE GENETICS 27.125 27.959
NATURE METHODS 26.919 25.062
JOURNAL OF CLINICAL ONCOLOGY 26.303 24.008
LANCET INFECTIOUS DISEASES 25.148 19.864
Cancer Discovery 24.373 20.011
CELL STEM CELL 23.290 23.394
BMJ-British Medical Journal 23.259 20.785
CANCER CELL 22.844 27.407
NATURE IMMUNOLOGY 21.809 21.506
JAMA Oncology 20.871 16.559
GASTROENTEROLOGY 20.773 18.392
Cell Metabolism 20.565 18.164
JAMA Internal Medicine 19.989 16.538
NATURE NEUROSCIENCE 19.912 17.839
IMMUNITY 19.734 22.845
Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology 19.313 19.742
NATURE CELL BIOLOGY 19.064 20.060
CIRCULATION 18.880 19.309
Cell Host & Microbe 17.872 14.946
GUT 17.016 16.658
JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF CARDIOLOGY 16.834 19.896
Science Translational Medicine 16.710 16.796
JAMA Psychiatry 16.642 15.307
CELL RESEARCH 15.393 15.606
Lancet Psychiatry 15.233 11.588
CIRCULATION RESEARCH 15.211 13.965
BLOOD 15.132 13.164
BEHAVIORAL AND BRAIN SCIENCES 15.071 14.200
JOURNAL OF HEPATOLOGY 14.911 12.486
NEURON 14.318 14.024
MOLECULAR CELL 14.248 14.714
Nature Microbiology 14.174 -
HEPATOLOGY 14.079 13.246
FUNGAL DIVERSITY 14.078 13.465
Nature Chemical Biology 13.843 15.066
NATURE STRUCTURAL & MOLECULAR BIOLOGY 13.333 12.595
JOURNAL OF ALLERGY AND CLINICAL IMMUNOLOGY 13.258 13.081
JOURNAL OF CLINICAL INVESTIGATION 13.251 12.784
GENOME BIOLOGY 13.214 11.908
Nature Protocols 12.423 10.032
Bone Research 12.354 9.626
Nature Communications 12.353 12.124
PLOS MEDICINE 11.675 11.862
MOLECULAR PSYCHIATRY 11.640 13.204
NUCLEIC ACIDS RESEARCH 11.561 10.162
Science Advances 11.511 -
Nature Plants 11.471 10.300
JAMA Neurology 11.460 10.029
BIOTECHNOLOGY ADVANCES 11.452 10.597
NATURAL PRODUCT REPORTS 11.406 11.014
Autophagy 11.100 8.593

To conclude, the top journals in the latest Journal Citation Reports are almost the same as the year before. But there are changes that should not be overlooked in the IFs of some journals in life sciences. It's of importance to check these changes if you have a plan to publish articles in these journals.

Cusabio's bioreagents are used by researchers worldwide, and of course, are reported in papers published in prestigious journals such as Scientific Reports (4.122), which has at least 87 papers mentioning Cusabio, and Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry (5.500), which has at least 23 papers mentioning Cusabio. To date, there are more than 4,000 papers involving the use of Cusabio products, either ELISA kits, proteins, or antibodies. You can check these papers in our literature database: https://www.cusabio.com/m-248.html

After data processing, we rank our products reported in literature. Table. 5 shows the most frequently-reported:

Table. 5 Top 3 Products of Cusabio Reported in Literature

Product Code Product Name Number of Papers
CSB-E11987r Rat TNF-α ELISA kit 68
CSB-E04741m Mouse Tumor necrosis factor α,TNF-α ELISA KIT 57
CSB-E04638h Human Interleukin 6,IL-6 ELISA KIT 48

Finally, if you have used Cusabio products to do your research, any question regarding publishing a paper in your desired journal is welcome. Cusabio is always willing to advance scientific achievement by supporting researchers and scientists in the field of life sciences.

 

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