Scientific journals are the forum where new research is published and debated, and provide a vital record of scientific and clinical progress. Although publishing is changing rapidly, journals and books remain vital and dynamic elements of the scientific ecosystem.

Respiratory medicine has grown as a specialty over the past few decades and the increasing number of subspecialty research topics has resulted in a large portfolio of respiratory journals to cater for these different areas, in addition to general medical journals. The prime function of most respiratory journals is to publish original research work but they will usually also contain reviews relevant to clinical practice. However, other publications have a predominantly educational emphasis. Some of the major respiratory journals are listed in table 1.

Rank Publication title Impact factor
1 American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 11.041
2 Thorax 8.376
3 European Respiratory Journal 6.355
4 CHEST 5.854
5 Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation 5.112
6 Journal of Thoracic Oncology 4.473
7 American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology 4.148
8 Respiratory Research 3.642
9 Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery 3.526
10 American Journal of Physiology – Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology 3.523
11 Annals of Thoracic Surgery 3.454
12 Lung Cancer 3.392
13 Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine 3.119
14 Tuberculosis 3.033
15 Journal of Aerosol Medicine and Pulmonary Drug Delivery 2.894
Table 1 – List of the top 15 publications in the Respiratory Systems category and their 2012 Journal Citation
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Many respiratory publications are affiliated with national or international societies and may be either owned wholly by the society, such as in the case of the publications of the European Respiratory Society and the American Thoracic Society, or co-owned, such as Thorax which is co-owned by the British Thoracic Society and BMJ Publishing Group Ltd. Various business and strategic decisions underlie the reason for being a self-publishing society or whether to outsource to a commercial publisher. Some journals are not affiliated to any society and are owned by a commercial publisher. Regardless of who owns a specific publication and whatever its focus, editorial freedom must always be preserved.

Over the years, many of the respiratory journals in existence today have developed from smaller-readership publications as their affiliated societies grew, some have resulted from a merger of two or more journals, some have broadened their scope and some have changed their names to reflect the development of respiratory medicine as a specialty. The advent of the web has increased the accessibility and visibility of journals and has also enabled faster publication of research papers. The introduction of online submission systems has greatly facilitated submission of manuscripts to journals and enabled faster and more coordinated peer review, and most journal editors now deal with an increasing number of submissions year on year (figure 1).

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