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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 35-36

How to assess quality of journals and researches (Part I)

Department of Ophthalmology, P D Hinduja National Hospital and Medical Research Centre, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication21-Aug-2019

Correspondence Address:
Barun K Nayak
Department of Ophthalmology, P D Hinduja National Hospital and Medical Research Centre, Mumbai, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jcor.jcor_59_19

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How to cite this article:
Nayak BK. How to assess quality of journals and researches (Part I). J Clin Ophthalmol Res 2019;7:35-6

How to cite this URL:
Nayak BK. How to assess quality of journals and researches (Part I). J Clin Ophthalmol Res [serial online] 2019 [cited 2023 Mar 24];7:35-6. Available from: https://www.jcor.in/text.asp?2019/7/2/35/264895

Researchers and authors are happy on publication of their research in any journal, but the authors get utmost satisfaction when their article draws plenty of attention after publication. Authors, therefore, always want to publish in a journal which is regarded as a high-quality journal. The purpose of this editorial is to familiarize authors in that regard so that the right choice of journal for article submission can be done. It will be presented in the follwing two parts; Part I will deal with impact factor (IF) in detail with its limitations and drawbacks, whereas Part II will deal with the various alternative matric available to judge the quality of journals and researchers. This knowledge will be useful for both, authors and readers in selecting the appropriate journals for manuscript submission and source for authentic information, respectively.

Some of the criteria which are considered important for assessing the quality of the journals are:[1]

  • Standard for acceptance of manuscript
  • Profile of the editorial board
  • Regularity of publication
  • Robust review process
  • Indexing in important databases
  • Reader's perspective about the content
  • Frequency of citations in other journals.

Similarly, there can be two types of criteria for the evaluation of scientific papers:

  • Quantitative which is based on reviews by experts and is regarded as reliable but least objective
  • Qualitative which is based on scientometrics and is regarded as the most objective but least reliable.

Hence, we have to choose the right criteria to evaluate journals researchers based on our need as “no one size fits all.”

Citations are also not free from bias and are influenced by certain factors:

  • Language of the article
  • Quality of the article
  • Understanding of the article
  • Types of articles
  • Loyalty to a particular researchers group
  • Benefits or conflict of interest “you pat my back and I pat yours.”

IF[2],[3] is in existence since 1961 which was developed by Institute of Scientific Informatics. It was calculated for all journals included in the Science Citation Index (SCI). The IF report is published in Journal of Citation Report (JCR) in June. The higher IF of a journal is considered better than those whose IF is less.

IF of a journal is calculated based on the citations received for the articles published in that journal. IF of a journal in a particular year is calculated by dividing the total number of citations received in any journal in that year of the articles published in two preceding years (numerator) by the total number of articles published in two preceding years (denominator). I would like to elaborate it further by giving the following example. The journal in consideration is x for the year 2018.


  • Total number of articles published in journal x in the year 2016 = a
  • Total number of articles published in journal x in the year 2017 = b
  • Total number of citations out of articles (a) in any journal in the year 2018 = c
  • Total number of citations out of articles (b) in any journal in the year 2018 = d.

The IF of journal x for the year 2018 = (c + d)/(a + b) The IF for the year 2018 of this journal (x) will be published in JCR in June 2019.

Original articles, review articles, brief communications, case reports, and symposia are considered as source items and counted in (a + b). It is important to know that editorials, opinions, and letters to editors are not considered as source item hence, not included in (a + b) whereas citation of nonsource items such as editorials and letters to editors are also included in the citation count of (c + d).

There are many limitations of IF.[3],[4] The IF is calculated for the journal hence, it is journal specific and not article specific. Therefore, all articles published in a high IF journal may not have similar high impact. The IF calculation is based on citations alone which means the article has drawn attention of the researchers constituting a small subset of users of the entire publication. It leaves out a larger chunk such as clinicians, funding agencies, social media, and public at large. Only peer-reviewed journals qualify to be included in SCI, but all peer-reviewed journals are not included in SCI; hence, larger chunk of materials such as unpublished researches, published in nonpeer reviewed journals, data sets, presentations, hyperlinks, and web pages are left out. IF is biased toward publication in English language. There is a time lag to create the impact of any research after publication as there is always a citation latency. The specialty journal citation probability is limited as compared to a journal covering all the topics and basic researches. Even the journal with high IF has limited viewers as all the journals included in SCI are not following the policy of “Open Access.” It is easy to game to increase IF. Excessive self-citation by journals or authors is very common. The extreme example may be writing an editorial in the beginning of the year citing all its articles published in the preceding 2 years in that journal. Choosing to publish more of symposia, review articles, and letter to editors are efforts toward indirectly increasing the IF by editors. Many journals do not publish case reports as their potential to be cited is very low. IF is quantitative but not qualitative as it is based on citations alone. Increased citation denotes popularity among a select group which is of researchers, but it does not translate into prestige or utility.

SCI has also come up with some other indices such as “5 years average IF,” “Immediacy Index,” “Citied half life,” “Eigenfactor score,” and “Article Influence score.”[3],[4],[5],[6] These indices were created to overcome the limitations of IF, but all are citation-based and carry similar limitations in varying degree. The Part II of this editorial will cover the alternative metrics, which will be published in the editorial of the next issue. The knowledge and understanding of these facts are imperative for all so that we do not get lost in the era of ever-increasing scientific literature mainly due to easy dissemination of filtered and unfiltered information through the internet.

  References Top

Masic I. Index factors for assessing the scientific journal validity, it's articles and their authors. J Forensic Anthropol 2016;1:103.  Back to cited text no. 1
Nayak BK. The enigma of impact factor. Indian J Ophthalmol 2006;54:225-6.  Back to cited text no. 2
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Mathur VP, Sharma A. Impact factor and other standardized measures of journal citation: A perspective. Indian J Dent Res 2009;20:81-5.  Back to cited text no. 3
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Kiesslich T, Weineck SB, Koelblinger D. Reasons for journal impact factor changes: Influence of changing source items. PLoS One 2016;11:e0154199.  Back to cited text no. 4
5 Year Impact Factor & Ranking. Available from: https://journalinsights.elsevier.com/journals/0004-3702/impact_factor_5_year.  Back to cited text no. 5
Article Influence & Eigenfactor. Available from: https://journalinsights.elsevier.com/journals/0004-3702/article_influence  Back to cited text no. 6


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