Journals’ Ranking System Roils Research

An article in the Wall Street Journal reports on the increasing practice of journals and authors to find ways to play the system that ranks scholarly publications.  At issue, this time, were two papers published by The Scientific World Journal which excessively cited the journal Cell Transplantation.  The Scientific World Journal retracted both articles, however Thomson Reuters, which publishes the impact factors, suspended both journals for two years, which is a serious “blow to the researchers who publish” in them. “The disapproval isn’t about the metric itself but about its misuse,” says Jim Testa, a vice president of editorial development and publisher relations at Thomson Reuters.

Phil Davis, a publishing consultant, who is quoted in the WSJ article and who researches citation gaming, has studied Cell Transplantation’s citation patterns and noted in an April blog entry that “a review article published in another journal, Medical Science Monitor, had cited a total of 490 articles in the field, of which 445 were articles that had appeared in Cell Transplantation alone, in 2008 and 2009. Both those years were used to compute the 2010 impact factor for Cell Transplantation, and those citations apparently had an effect: the journal’s IF rose from 5.126 in 2009 to 6.204 in 2010, a jump of 21%.”

article by Naik, Gautam. Wall Street Journal (Online) [New York, N.Y] 24 Aug 2012