Not the Open Journal of Astrophysics Impact Factor – Update

 I thought I would give an update with some bibliometric information about the 12 papers published by the Open Journal of Astrophysics in 2019. The NASA/ADS system has been struggling to tally the citations to a couple of our papers but this issue has now been resolved.  According to this source the total number of citations for these papers is 532 (as of today). This number is dominated by one particular paper which has 443 citations according to NASA/ADS. Excluding this paper gives an average number of citations for the remaining 11 of 7.4.

I’ll take this opportunity to re-iterate some comments about the Journal Impact Factor. When asked about this my usual response is (a) to repeat the arguments why the impact factor is daft and (b) point out that we have to have been running continuously for at least two years to have an official impact factor anyway.

For those of you who can’t be bothered to look up the definition of an impact factor , for a given year it is basically the sum of the citations for all papers published in the journal over the previous two-year period divided by the total number of papers published in that journal over the same period. It’s therefore the average citations per paper published in a two-year window. The impact factor for 2019 would be defined using data from 2017 and 2018, etc.

The impact factor is prone to the same issue as the simple average I quoted above in that citation statistics are generally heavily skewed  and the average can therefore be dragged upwards by a small number of papers with lots of citations (in our case just one).

I stress again we don’t have an Impact Factor as such for the Open Journal. However, for reference (but obviously not comparison) the latest actual impact factors (2018, i.e. based on 2016 and 2017 numbers) for some leading astronomy journals are: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 5.23; Astrophysical Journal 5.58; and Astronomy and Astrophysics 6.21.

My main point, though, is that with so much bibliometric information available at the article level there is no reason whatsoever to pay any attention to crudely aggregated statistics at the journal level. Judge the contents, not the packaging.

This post is based on an article at the OJA blog.



3 Responses to “Not the Open Journal of Astrophysics Impact Factor – Update”

  1. The previous two years seems rather arbitrary. There are some papers which had no citations at all in the first two years, and were later heavily cited, sometimes even before the corresponding Nobel Prize was awarded. (Also, there is at least one case of a Nobel Prize being awarded for a work the write-up of which was rejected by Nature.)

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