Since a few people have been asking about the Journal Impact Factor (JIF) for the Open Journal of Astrophysics, I thought I’d do a quick post in response.

When asked about this my usual reply is (a) to repeat the arguments why the impact factor is daft and (b) point out that the official JIF is calculated by Clarivate so it’s up to them to calculate it – us plebs don’t get a say.

On the latter point Clarivate takes its bibliometric data from the Web of Science (which it owns). I have applied on behalf of the Open Journal of Astrophysics to be listed in the Web of Science but it has not yet been listed.

Anyway, the fact that it’s out of my hands doesn’t stop people from asking so I thought I’d proceed with my own calculation not using Web of Science but instead using NASA/ADS (which probably underestimates citation numbers but which is freely available, so you can check the numbers using the interface here); the official NASA/ADS abbreviation for the Open Journal of Astrophysics is OJAp.

For those of you who can’t be bothered to look up the definition of an impact factor for a given year it is defined 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. Since our first full year of publication was 2019, the first year for which we can calculate a JIF is 2021 (i.e. last year) which is defined using data from 2019 and 2020.

I stress again we don’t have an official Journal Impact Factor for the Open Journal of Astrophysics but one can calculate its value easily. In 2019 and 2020 we published 12 and 15 papers respectively, a 27. These papers were cited a total of 193 times in 2021. The journal impact factor for 2021 is therefore … roll on the drums… 193/27, which gives:

If you don’t believe me, you can check the numbers yourself. For comparison, the latest available Impact Factor (2020) for Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society is 5.29 and Astronomy & Astrophysics is 5.80. OJAp’s first full year of publication was 2019 (in which we published 12 papers) but we did publish one paper in 2018. Based on the 134 citations received to these 13 papers in 2020, our 2020 Journal Impact Factor was 10.31, much higher than MNRAS or A&A.

Furthermore, we published 32 papers in 2020 and 2021 which have so far received 125 citations in 2022. Our Journal Impact Factor for 2022 will therefore be at least 125/32= 3.91 and if those 32 papers are cited at the same for the rest of this year the 2022 JIF will be about 7.5.

Who knows, perhaps these numbers will shame Clarivate into giving us an official figure?

With so much bibliometric information available at the article level there is no reason whatsoever to pay any attention to such a crudely aggregated statistics at the journal level as the JIF. One should judge the contents, not the packaging. I am however fully aware that many people who hold the purse strings for research insist on publications in journals with a high JIF. If there was any fairness in the system they would be mandating astronomy publications in OJAp rather than MNRAS or A&A.

Anyway, it might annoy all the right people if I add a subtitle to the Open Journal of Astrophysics: “The World’s Leading Astrophysics Journal”…

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