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The impact of the BJUI and what influences it today: does impact factor matter?

Over the last decade, urological researchers have been increasingly interested with, and driven by, the impact factor (IF) of the journal to which they are submitting. This bibliometric tool measures the way in which a journal receives citations of its articles over time. IF is calculated by dividing the number of current citations a journal receives for articles published in the two previous years, by the number of articles published in those same years.

Although IF represents a proxy for the popularity of a journal within its field, several academic and scientific organizations now use the IF to judge the value of a scientist or of a research team using it for national and international academic evaluations. This questionable policy has generated a vicious circle that has driven authors to prefer journals with higher IFs and, consequently, journal editorial boards (and publishers) to plan (soft or strong) strategies to increase this index. As a result a higher IF attracts the best articles in the field and increases the number of subscriptions to a journal. There are a number of potential biases influencing the IF values including self-citation, the number of articles published per year, and the type of articles accepted. We will explain how all of these nuances can play a significant role in calculating the IF.

Some journals subtly suggest that authors and reviewers cite articles published in their own journal within the references of newly submitted papers. This slightly dubious practice can bias the true value of the IF. Reassuringly when looking at the urological journals, the self-citation factor generally seems to play a limited role, as most journals have a percentage <10%. The policy of the BJUI Editorial Board does not support a self-citation practice. The decision to start each BJUI issue with some editorial comments (the Editor’s Choice section) is only to offer to readers the opportunity to have expert comment on the most important papers published within each edition. Indeed, the invited authors are only requested to cite the featured article and no others from the BJUI.

The number of papers published per journal volume and throughout each year is another significant factor influencing the IF value. Table 1 clearly shows the wide variability in the number of papers published from 2010–2011 in the different urologic journals. The new BJUI policy is to significantly reduce the number of published papers/year. Reflecting this decision, the BJUI Editorial Board has agreed to significantly improve the review process with the aim of selecting only the most relevant and original of the submitted manuscripts. A new rapid triage review process should allow us to select only the best 30–40% of submitted manuscripts to send to 3–4 experts for a more focused and precise review process. This mechanism has produced a significantly increased rejection rate in favour, we hope, of a better selection of topics and papers for our readership [2].

Table 1. Items cited in 2012 and items published in 2010–2011 in the most important urological journals. Data from ISI Web of Journal Citation Reports (JCR)
Abbreviated Journal Title Cites in 2012 Items published in 2010–2011 Impact Factor
EUR UROL 4.662 445 10.476
NAT REV UROL 580 121 4.793
PROSTATE 1.395 963 3.843
J UROLOGY 4.864 1316 3.696
J SEX MED 2.638 751 3.513
BJU INT 3.323 1091 3.046
WORLD J UROL 673 233 2.888
UROLOGY 2.843 1173 2.424
CURR OPIN UROL 360 164 2.195

 

Bibliometric analyses have shown that review articles are cited more frequently than full original research papers. Therefore publishing good quality review articles written by expert opinion leaders in the field represents an excellent strategy to increase a journal’s IF. Although, we recognize the impact of review articles on IF, the current policy of the BJUI remains unchanged with only relatively few review articles included in each issue. As a result we will continue to give maximal attention to the clinical and basic research papers.

Finally the IF is in many ways only an index of the popularity of a journal because it equally weights citations from highly reputed journals alongside citations from more obscure journals [1]. However a journal’s true credit is also based on the prestige of the citing journals and the Eigenfactor scores is currently used to reflect this measure. Table 2 shows that the BJUI is third of all urological journals according to this less popular bibliometric tool. Another contemporary measure of impact, particularly influenced through the internet is the “Klout Score”. This system, which uses social media analytics to rank users according to online social influence via the Klout Score, giving a numerical value between 1 and 100. The BJUI currently has a score of 56, higher than its contemporaries. Therefore we can conclude that the BJUI today is a journal with a good reputation throughout the urologic field.

Table 2. Relationship between prestige (Eigenfactor® Score) and popularity (Impact Factor score) of urological journals. Data from ISI Web of Journal Citation Reports (JCR)
Rank Abbreviated Journal Title Eigenfactor® Score Impact Factor IF rank
 1 J UROLOGY 0.08109 3.696 4
 2 EUR UROL 0.05503 10.476 1
 3 BJU INT 0.04248 3.046 7
 4 UROLOGY 0.03896 2.424 11
 5 J SEX MED 0.01738 3.513 6
 6 PROSTATE 0.01624 3.843 3
 7 J ENDOUROL 0.01571 2.074 15
 8 NEUROUROL URODYNAM 0.00897 2.674 10
 9 WORLD J UROL 0.00750 2.888 8
10 INT J UROL 0.00582 1.734 16

 

The editorial board of a traditional urological journal like the BJUI must take into consideration both the IF and other scoring systems as indicators of its popularity and prestige. The strategies we employ to give better bibliometric parameters should predominantly reflect an increase in the quality of the papers published as we must remember that the journal is primarily produced for the readership and not just for those who wish to publish in it [3].

Vincenzo Ficarra1, Associate Editor,
Ben Challacombe2, Associate Editor,
Prokar Dasgupta2, Editor in Chief

1Department of Experimental and Clinical Medical Sciences, Urology Unit, University of Udine, Italy. 2King’s Health Partners, London UK

References

  1. Franceschet M. The difference between popularity and prestige in the sciences and in the social sciences: a bibliometric analysis. J Informetr 2010; 4: 55–61
  2. Dasgupta P. The most read surgical journal on the web. BJU Int 2013; 111: 1–3
  3. Schulman CC. What you have always wanted to know about the impact factor and did not dare to ask. Eur Urol 2005; 48: 179–181

Original publication of this editorial can be found at: BJU Int 2013; 112: 873–874, doi: 10.1111/bju.12472

Urological oncology in the BJUI

Urological oncology is increasingly multi-disciplinary, and hence competitive for high impact thought leadership. Innovation leading to paradigm changes may come from a number of different ideas and sources. Effective leadership in our specialty certainly requires technical innovations in surgical treatments, but also pivotal roles in improving the process of diagnosis, staging, patient counselling, multi-modal therapy, and ultimately evidence-based clinical guidelines. The ultimate end-result of innovation is a peer reviewed publication, and at the BJUI we wish to bring you nothing but the highest quality.

Our daily lives are increasingly busy with our varying mixtures of clinical work, teaching, administration, and research. How much time do we have to read a surgical journal? It is an important part of our learning, but we must be efficient to squeeze it into a busy day. Keeping this in mind, the Editorial Board is more selective than ever in the papers that make it into the BJUI. Each paper we accept needs to represent something valuable to the reader and to our science, such as a technical innovation, large study of a new method to fix an unmet need, multi-institutional validation trial, or updated guideline. For this to work, we need fair and efficient peer reviewers, and high quality submissions.

In this month’s BJUI, we see encouraging work from multiple talented authorship groups who address a plethora of unmet needs. These papers show the diversity of impact the Editorial team is looking for in BJUI urological oncology submissions.

Prostate cancer, of course, is a common topic for new submissions and subsequent citations. In the field of localised prostate cancer and PSA screening, the recent U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) report was critical of our diagnostic practice results in terms of biopsy related complications and, of course, negative (a.k.a. unnecessary, a term we should drop) biopsies. I must confess that I am still stuck in the tradition of the PSA/DRE as the key driver of my recommendation for a biopsy, and several informal ‘raise your hand’ polls at meetings have produced little movement when asked if anyone has adopted newer calculators that incorporate TRUS volume. Why not change? The numbers certainly seem reasonable: an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.71 for DRE/PSA and 0.77 for the risk calculator. You can even make a crude DRE-volume estimate and improve your odds – AUC of 0.73 without and 0.77 with DRE-volume. If that sounds of interest, then perhaps the study by Carlsson et al. in this issue may interest you with their biomarker panel of kallikreins that can do the same work as the combined clinical efforts and reach AUCs of 0.76 alone, or 0.792 if you still want to add the DRE and TRUS volume. I agree with the authors, that this is perhaps a simpler model, which may allow the physician and patient some time to have a look at their risk of a positive biopsy and make a decision, rather than the idea of the last minute TRUS volume that is supposed to put the brakes on a biopsy at a certain size. With further refinement, we can all learn new thresholds for biopsy that are better selected, and in the future should always be calculated as overall cancers detected/missed and high-grade cancers detected/missed.

In addition, the USPSTF criticised the toxicity of a biopsy, and drug-resistant sepsis is an increasing problem. Symons et al. present an instructive series of transperineal biopsies and results, and they seem to have solved the sepsis problem (0.2%), but must weigh the added cost of anaesthesia, physician time, and no obvious difference in bleeding/other minor complications. I am increasingly interested in re-utilising this technique, which previously was only for third-line saturation biopsies. If you are also convinced, Kuru et al. present a tour-de-force presentation of transperineal technique, terminology, and data collection for a multi-centre collaboration.

Finally, in a must-read special article, Carter expands upon the recent AUA guidelines on PSA screening that were intensely debated, especially the recommendations against routine screening in men aged <55 years. Guidelines are an interesting area of study, and can vary in outcome based upon who is on them and what methodology/objectives are selected. If the guideline is meant to be best clinical practice, than the personnel can certainly be influential. However, if the guideline is meant to emphasise evidence-based recommendations, then in theory, any panel of experts will arrive at a similar place. This is the essential message from Carter, that the revised guidelines are meant to reflect the evidence, and currently we do not have level 1 evidence that involved screening men aged <55 years.

Closing this month in ‘Urological Oncology’, Cindolo et al. report an accuracy/generalizability study of the Karakiewicz nomograms for cancer-specific survival with RCC. These articles are, of course, largely statistical exercises, but very necessary, as we define populations suitable for surgery only vs those in need of neoadjuvant/adjuvant inclusion. Wong et al. conclude the month with an innovative report on office-based laser ablation of non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer using local anaesthesia, mostly in an elderly population. The study protocol allowed photodynamic diagnosis, and includes a cost analysis. The results certainly support continued use in this population where we commonly wish to avoid the morbidity of repeat general anaesthetics.

John W. Davis, MD, FACS
Associate Editor, BJUI

Original publication of this editorial can be found at: doi: 10.1111/bju.12380BJUI 2013; 112: 531–532.

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