Assessing quality and status of respiratory journals
Around the world, research assessment exercises are carried out to evaluate the research conducted by higher education institutions and the main measure of the quality is the status of the journal in which researchers publish their work.
Success and status of a journal are therefore important, although they are difficult to quantify. The commonest approach though has been to use the ‘impact factor’.
While useful, it is not without its disadvantages and one of its limitations is that it only reflects the past 2 years of citations. The impact factor is calculated from numbers of citations and articles published. Using the example of the 2012 impact factors (released in 2013), these reflect the total number of citations in 2012 to all articles (including reviews, editorials and letters) divided by the number of original papers and reviews published in a given journal in 2010 and 2011. The top-ranked respiratory publications by impact factor are shown in table 1. A 5-year impact factor can also be calculated and may be more representative of the importance and application of a research paper as it may take some time to translate research findings into clinical practice.
Impact factor is also often used by librarians as one of the criteria for determining how their materials budgets (i.e. money available for subscriptions) for each faculty should be spent, which has implications for a journal’s visibility and finances.
In order for a journal to have a high impact factor, citations need to be high. This has led to editors changing the content of their journal, often publishing fewer articles and not publishing certain categories of paper, such as case reports, that have lower citations. However, it is the editor’s responsibility to ensure that their journal has an appropriate balance of respiratory papers and that the journal’s target audience is appropriately served.