European Journal of ImmunologyVolume 45, Issue 7 p. i-ii EditorialFree Access Impact versus Significance in scientific publishing First published: 06 July 2015 https://doi.org/10.1002/eji.201570072Citations: 2AboutSectionsPDF ToolsRequest permissionExport citationAdd to favoritesTrack citation ShareShare Give accessShare full text accessShare full-text accessPlease review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article.I have read and accept the Wiley Online Library Terms and Conditions of UseShareable LinkUse the link below to share a full-text version of this article with your friends and colleagues. Learn more.Copy URL The same procedure as every year: the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) publishes the impact factors of scientific journals. This is a publication that really matters to those in science, both in publishing and beyond. The impact factor ranks journals according to how often and how fast their articles have been cited recently. This year's impact factor is the number of citations in 2014 for articles published in 2012 and 2013 in a given journal, divided by the number of all source articles (typically research and review articles) published in 2012 and 2013 in that given journal. This definition 1 reflects the immediate recognition of published results by colleagues working in the same area, the more the better. It is a great way to identify the popstars of science and determine the popularity of their work, and it is a parameter which is easy to manipulate. Reviews, in particular those written by eminent celebrity scientists, are cited several times more often than original papers. Reviews also offer a chance to highlight and cite recent publications of the same journal. Original papers of small research communities will be cited less frequently than those of large communities, and the peak of citations can vary considerably, from two to six years 2. Irreproducible results are probably cited more often and faster than reproducible results. Finally, quality control for the citation itself can be dubious: reviews and derivative or epigonic articles such as commentaries tend to be cited more often than the seminal primary articles. To my knowledge, there is no information available on the frequencies of appropriate versus inappropriate citations in the literature. Fair and professional citations would seem indispensable for the calculation of a fair impact factor. The bottom line is that the impact factor measures the immediate popularity of papers published in a journal, rather than the significance of the science published in that journal. It is encouraging to see that there is increasing recognition among scientists that the impact factor is a weak measure of scientific quality of a journal 3. In the long run, the quality and originality of a paper will determine the significance of that paper, i.e. its long-term impact on science. This is what the Executive Committee and Editorial Board of the European Journal of Immunology (EJI) stand for, and is the reason why we are trying to ensure that all appropriate sources (not just reviews and commentaries) get credit no matter where published, whether in the high impact factor journals or the more often overlooked lower impact factor journals – our fair citation policy. Figure 1Open in figure viewerPowerPoint Median and aggregate impact factors for “immunology” as a subject category, 2007–2014. Nevertheless, it is a pity that the impact factor of EJI for 2014 has dropped from 4.97 in 2012, to 4.52 in 2013, and further to 4.03 in 2014. EJI is not alone, with, for example, the Journal of Immunology suffering a similar fate with its IF now standing at 4.922. In fact, the median and aggregate IFs for the subject category “immunology” are currently on a downward trend (Fig. 1) and it seems that the journals bucking this trend tend to be those publishing a significant percentage of reviews (>20% reviews vs 7% in EJI when examining content pertinent to the 2014 impact factor, Figure 2, Table 1). This decrease in impact factor will discourage young authors from submitting their top manuscripts to EJI in the first place. Rather, they will try their luck first with other journals of higher impact factor. It´s not their fault, young scientists are aware that their standing in the research community and their career will depend less on the number of citations to their own paper, but more on the impact factor of the journals publishing them. This is a ridiculous situation, since it is known that even in the journals with the top impact factors, many papers are cited rarely, if at all. In 2005 Nature reported that 89% of the citations determining its impact factor were obtained by 25% of the papers published 4. At EJI, 17% of the Figure 2Open in figure viewerPowerPoint IF trend of EJI and its closest competitors 2009–2014. papers published in 2012 and 2013 were not cited at all in 2014, but does that mean that they lack value? Is it worthwhile trying to predict the citation rate and reject those manuscripts up front, for lack of “popularity”? I think not. EJI's cited half-life for 2014, which represents the median age of its articles cited in 2014, is 8.5 years. I believe that these papers represent solid and original science, which has been certified by stringent peer review, strictly revised according to the comments of the reviewers and is of interest for defined communities of immunologists and others interested in immunology. In other words, these papers represent science that matters, albeit not according to the impact factor. This policy regarding consideration of solid science also means that we welcome top quality manuscripts describing original and significant work, which have been rejected by journals with higher impact factors for perceived lack of popularity. Table 1. Primary articles and reviews published in EJI and comparable competitor journals and the impact of citations on the 2014 impact factor Eur J Immunol J Immunol J Leuk Biol Immunol Cell Biol Cell Mol Immunol Average research article citation 3.6 5.0 3.4 2.7 2.0 Average review citation 8.9 11.2 7.1 6.9 6.8 No. research articles 573 2560 318 122 65 No. reviews 42 38 97 62 42 Total no. reviews + research articles 615 2598 415 184 107 % Reviews of reviews + research articles 7% 1% 23% 34% 39% Total cites 2510 13201 1810 772 440 IF2014 4.034 4.922 4.289 4.147 4.112 EJI will continue to be a platform for significant publications in immunology, covering all immunological aspects, and not only the popular ones. Our emphasis being a strict, fast, fair and transparent peer review process, double-checking the scientific arguments of the review process by scientists of the executive committee working with the editorial team, asking for essential but not extensive revisions, and offering scoop protection against contemporaneous competing publications 5. Our efforts are supported by a great community of editors and alumni editors from all over the world, and by a host of authors who continue to submit high quality manuscripts to EJI. This will keep EJI a frontrunner in publishing excellence in immunology. References 1Garfield, E., The history and the meaning of the journal impact factor. JAMA. 2006. 295: 90– 91. 2Amin, M. and Mabe, M., Impact Factors: use and abuse. Perspectives in Publishing. 2000. 1: 2– 6. 3Verma I. M., Impact, not impact factor. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015. In press. 4 Anonymous, Not-so-deep impact. Nature. 2005. 435: 1003– 1004. 5Radbruch, A., Fair play at EJI. Eur. J. Immunol. 2013. i-ii. Citing Literature Volume45, Issue7July 2015Pages i-ii FiguresReferencesRelatedInformation

Full Text

Published Version
Open DOI Link

Get access to 115M+ research papers

Discover from 40M+ Open access, 2M+ Pre-prints, 9.5M Topics and 32K+ Journals.

Sign Up Now! It's FREE

Talk to us

Join us for a 30 min session where you can share your feedback and ask us any queries you have

Schedule a call