As the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing rapidly approaches, I would like to repurpose Neil Armstrong’s legendary words to, instead, refer to the Journal Impact Factor of JGR Space Physics. Yes, the 2018 JIF scores are out, and I could have written this post three weeks ago, but I was on travel at the GEM Workshop and didn’t take the time. By waiting, however, I get to use a funny but appropriate quote.
The new JIF score for JGR Space Physics is, to 4 digits, 2.821, up 0.069 from last year’s 2.752, which was up ever so slightly from the year before. So, it is climbing, very slowly, each year since the big split when each of the JGR titles received its own score. In fact, all of the various metrics that Clarivate Analytics calculates have been steadily on the rise for JGR Space Physics the last few years.
This is an excellent time for us to remember DORA, the Declaration on Research Assessment, which is publishing-community effort to deemphasize quantitative metrics like the Journal Impact Factor (JIF).
The basic message is that we should consider the stature of a journal based on how it fits within the landscape of journals publishing articles in that field. The DORA statement points out that is especially true when considering an individual researcher for hiring or promotion and assessing their contributions to their field. Instead of relying on metrics about the entire journal, you should consider the person’s individual papers for outstanding singular contributions as well as all of their papers as a collection, assessing their overall impact in the subject. The quality of the journals in which someone publishes matters, and it should be a considered, but the quantitative metrics about the journal should be only one part of that journal quality assessment. Perhaps another thing to consider is the retraction rate, as it has been shown that high JIF scores correlate with higher retraction rates, at least in one field (very interesting that this is a research highlight in Nature, a journal with a high JIF).
Remember that the 2018 JIF is calculated by dividing the citations in 2018 to papers published in 2016 and 2017. As a mean of positive definite values, it is susceptible to a few papers with very high citations, especially for smaller journals. Quoting 4 significant figures for the JIF is not meaningful. Really, we should say that both this year and last year were 2.8.
In other JIF news, Space Weather continues its climb to ever-higher scores, breaking the 3.0 barrier with an astonishing jump from 2.9 to 3.7. Outstanding! This is awesome news for that journal.
There are other journal metrics that take into account other values. One is the Article Influence score and another is the Normalized Eigenfactor Score, both of which take into account the “network” of the journal by considering the JIF of the journals citing a particular journal’s articles. The Article Influence is normalized by the number of papers in the specific journal of interest while the Normalized Eigenfactor Score is normalized by all journal eigenfactors so the average of the normalized scores is one. These are both calculated over a 5-year window, instead of the 2-year window of the JIF. For 2018, JGR Space Physics as an Article Influence score of 0.80 (an “okay” number in the middle of the pack) and a Normalized Eigenfactor Score of 4.8 (well above average).
Journal size matters when considering these metrics. JGR Space Physics published over 800 papers in each of 2016 and 2017. Our JIF score is barely altered by a few papers with high citations, and it really reflects the baseline trend across the research community in how we cite recent articles. To continue using our sibling journal, Space Weather, as a counterexample, it published 79 and 109 papers those two years, so it can vary substantially more based on the citations to its top-most articles. Because of this size difference, Space Weather’s Article Influence Score is 0.92, slightly higher than that for JGR Space Physics, but its Normalized Eigenfactor Score is only 0.55, an order of magnitude smaller.
The take-away point is that it is really hard to create a fair and comprehensive metric that accurately reflects the importance of a journal. So, feel free to look at the numbers, but don’t put too much weight into any single score, because it was designed in a particular way to highlight a particular aspect of the journal.
Overall, JGR Space Physics is doing very well. Thanks for you continued support of this journal and space physics publishing in general. It could not be done without the army of peer reviewers, and our thank you editorial just appeared in print. Thank you very much! And, of course, I must make the plea, you can still apply to be the JGR Space Physics Editor in Chief.