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The impact factor may be flawed but important

It has been a nice summer for the BJUI. Our impact factor has gone up to 4.387, the highest ever in the history of the Journal and we made the Altmetrics Top 50 for the first time ever with a score of 1166, Nature being the numero uno. I wanted to thank our editorial team, readers, authors and reviewers for their dedication and commitment, which made this possible.

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The question is how did we do this? For a journal without official society guidelines, it was not easy. So we had to focus on original articles rather than reviews and guidelines. There were three essential steps:

  1. Publishing the highest quality, citable papers irrespective of geographical location [1] – for example, this month we have highlighted the importance of personalised medicine in BPH from Taiwan [2], whereby the authors show that an endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) genetic polymorphism has a negative impact on response to α-blockers.
  2. Reducing the number of papers published while selecting clinically relevant, large prospective studies and trials – an example of this is the LAParoscopic Prostatectomy Robot Open (LAPPRO) study from Sweden [3], showing that even in very-low-risk prostate cancer, upgrading after radical prostatectomy occurs in over a third of patients and that the functional outcomes are not as good as expected.
  3. Amplifying our content through social media – this means that we believe in interaction with a wider audience, immediacy of response, and are not afraid of the occasional controversy and debate. An example is the comment on clostridium histolyticum collagenase followed by a brief editorial on what may increasingly be seen as an important treatment option for Peyronie’s disease [4].

Many consider the impact factor of a journal as a ‘gaming’ exercise, flawed by its very nature. I was very pleased to receive a WhatsApp from one of my colleagues saying how pleased he was that at the BJUI we have always played ‘with a straight bat’. An important consideration is that Universities often count original papers in the best journals for measuring academic output, which in turn drives income from various sources. In the UK this is given the term ‘returnable’ when considered within a system called the Research Excellence Framework. I am really pleased that the BJUI is now ‘returnable’ with its new impact factor and is seen as a serious player within a highly demanding system. I am aware that this also true for other international institutions, which is in keeping with our global presence as a journal without boundaries.

Prokar Dasgupta @prokarurol
Editor-in-Chief, BJUI 

References

1 Dasgupta P. Quality has no boundaries. BJU Int 2014; 113: 1

 

 

 

4 Poullis C, Shabbir M, Eardley I, Mulhall J, Minhas S. Clostridium histolyticum collagenase Is this revolutionary medical treatment for Peyronies disease? BJU Int 2016; 118: 18692

 

BJUI’s Impact Factor rises to 4.387

BJUI-IF-slider

BJUI’s Impact Factor has once again increased, with a steep rise this year to 4.387! The journal has also climbed in to the top 10 for Nephrology and Urology journals.

Editor-in-Chief Prokar Dasgupta and the BJUI Editorial Team would like to thank our readers, authors and reviewers for their dedication and hard work in helping to make this happen.

Congratulations to all those involved.

IF-graph

 

 

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

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