At this time every year, journal editors scan the newly published tables of journal impact factors published by Thomson ISI in their Journal Citation Reports. The impact factor (a measure reflecting the average number of citations to a journal over two years) is widely hated by researchers and editors alike, but is also widely used as the main indicator of the quality of a journal. My personal view of the impact factor is that it is a flawed measure that gives no true indication of the quality of the work published by a journal and that there must be better ways of doing this now that on-line publishing enables the monitoring of how often a paper is read or downloaded. There are many excellent blogs and articles on the internet arguing the pros and cons of impact factors, so I won’t digress too far by repeating their content. Let’s just say, that I am not alone in considering impact factor to be outmoded and unfit for purpose.
Nonetheless I was just a eager to look at the most recent impact factor for JHND when it was published last week. The Journal has a strategy to increase it’s overall ranking in the world of Nutrition and Dietetics publishing, with bold targets for impact factor and league table position over the next three years. Achieving our targets will take some time. Impact factors are calculated over a two year period and published half way through the year after the year to which they apply. Thus the figures published last week reflect citation of papers that we published in 2011 and 2012. The significance of this is that anything the new JHND editorial team does now to improve quality of published material, will not appear on the impact factor until June 2015.
Like editorial boards everywhere, we have plans to boost impact factor partly through a more stringent peer-review to ensure that only the best papers get through to publication, but also through targeting review articles that will attract a lot of citations and boosting awareness of the journal across the world by forming a larger international network of editorial board members. Quality is key though, and my expectation is that over the next year we will be accepting only the top quartile of papers submitted to the journal. There are rules that cannot be broken though, for example “coercive citation”. Some journals are kicked off the JCR list and condemned to academic publishing hell, for effectively making citation of articles to contribute to impact factor a condition of publication.
So, the news came in last week and for JHND the impact factor had increased from 1.8 something to 1.972. Good news for us as it means that the journal is on an upward trajectory towards impact factor-based greatness. However, the bad news was that the other journals that cluster around JHND in the JCR rankings had also moved upwards so JHND remained ranked as 43/76 journals in Nutrition and Dietetics. This means that there is a lot of work to be done. We are in the process of commissioning reviews from high-profile authors, quality sifting of submitted manuscripts is ongoing and we are promoting the journal and all it’s activities and achievements as widely as we can. If you have stuck with me to the end of this blog post, then please pass it on to others. Spread the word and when you next write an article, please cite a recent JHND paper but only if it is appropriate to do so, of course 😉 .