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What gets highly cited in JAN? Can editors pick which articles will contribute to a journal’s impact factor?


Watson, R and Cleary, M and Hunt, GE, What gets highly cited in JAN? Can editors pick which articles will contribute to a journal's impact factor?, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 69, (11) pp. e30-e34. ISSN 0309-2402 (2013) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

DOI: doi:10.1111/jan.12261


Whatever your views on the impact factor, the 'impact factor game' continues to be played and remains an important issue as this is often used as a default measure of an article’s impact (Bloch & Walter 2001, Bergemann 2006, The PLoS Medicine Editors 2006, Jackson 2010). There are ways the 'game' is played, which are unacceptable and may lead to removal from the relevant ‘league tables’ (Bergemann 2006) and these include: deliberately encouraging authors to cite the receiving journal in their manuscripts; selecting manuscripts for publication that contain high levels of citations to the receiving journal; and adding citations to the receiving journal postacceptance. On the cusp of acceptability are the excessive use of editorials and correspondence that cite the receiving journal (known as self-cites), which is closely monitored by Thomson Reuters (Bergemann 2006).

On the other hand, Editors-in-Chief work hard to publish manuscripts that are likely to be read and cited in their journal and they do have some idea of what tends to get cited. However, assessing the potential performance of papers is not without its challenges, and there is no crystal ball that can identify which articles are likely to receive the most citations in the critical first 2 years, which are the only ones that count towards the journal’s impact factor (Hunt et al. 2011, 2012). Publishers monitor citations carefully and editorial boards and journal management teams debate and decide on what kinds of papers to encourage and which to discourage or discontinue. Some publishers may exert pressure on the editorial team to improve or at least maintain the impact factor of the journal and to select articles that will contribute to the 2-year citation window (Hunt et al. 2012). Nevertheless, this is not a precise science and there are few, if any, formal studies of citations in any particular journal to support a particular strategy.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:writing for publication, mental health nursing
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Mental health services
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Mental health
UTAS Author:Cleary, M (Professor Michelle Cleary)
ID Code:108304
Year Published:2013
Web of Science® Times Cited:5
Deposited By:Health Sciences
Deposited On:2016-04-18
Last Modified:2018-04-17

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