Archive for January 5, 2016

The Great Curve II: Citation distributions and reverse engineering the JIF

Posted in Uncategorized on January 5, 2016 by telescoper

Here’s a lengthy study of Journal Impact Factors. It’s mainly about cell biology journals but I think this across all scientific disciplines. The JIF is so flawed as to be meaningless but this discussion suggests that the situation is even worse than that, with some advertised JIFs being wrong…


There have been calls for journals to publish the distribution of citations to the papers they publish (123). The idea is to turn the focus away from just one number – the Journal Impact Factor (JIF) – and to look at all the data. Some journals have responded by publishing the data that underlie the JIF (EMBO J, Peer JRoyal Soc, Nature Chem). It would be great if more journals did this. Recently, Stuart Cantrill from Nature Chemistry actually went one step further and compared the distribution of cites at his journal with other chemistry journals. I really liked this post and it made me think that I should just go ahead and harvest the data for cell biology journals and post it.

This post is in two parts. First, I’ll show the data for 22 journals. They’re broadly cell biology, but there’s something…

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