The influence of impact factor in open access publishing


The trends in open access publishing are the talking point of most academicians in scholarly publications. One of the most commonly misunderstood topics is the correlation between impact factors and open access journals.

One of the most significant benefits of publishing open access is that the article is freely accessible to everyone to read. Thus, valuable research data can be disseminated to a broader audience, and the article’s impact factor may increase.

Is the impact factor helpful in assessing the quality of research papers? Is open access publishing suppressing the efficacy of the impact factor? Well, some open access journals have an impact factor, while many do not endorse these metrics.

An open-access journal may not have an impact factor due to the following reasons: the scope and aim of the journal may be in the Arts & Humanities sector, such that it is not enlisted in the SSCI (Social Science Citation Index) or the SCI (Science Citation Index). These are databases that present the impact factors of journals.

The OA journal may be relatively new, and the process of application of indexing in SCI and SSCI databases may not have occurred. In the case of fairly old journals, the editorial board has to make an effort to apply to indexing processes.

However, most prestigious OA journals have an impact factor, but that does not mean other OA journals have published low quality research. On the contrary, the impact factor indicates the quality of research even in subscription journals of the same discipline.

Now, let us understand the complex aspects on which the impact factor depends. In general, patterns of citations in a particular subject area and the type of articles a journal publishes are taken into account before giving an impact factor to the journal.

For example, an open-access journal may be well-read by the masses. Its content is freely available to everyone and is not restricted by a paywall, like in subscription journals. An ordinary reader may expect the articles to be highly cited. However, if the readership is mainly due to medical practitioners, the articles won’t be highly cited.

Most researchers consider the impact factor of the journal before publishing an article. However, researchers and funders are moving beyond the scope of impact factor to assess the merits of scientific research. Today, they are exposed to a wider range of metrics, which enable a better assessment of the quality of research.

Furthermore, in open-access journal, the article is available online and is free to read for everyone and anywhere in the world with internet access. Therefore, the research published in open access journals will have a broader impact as it generates lots of downloads by researchers worldwide.

How to do journal selection for your manuscript?

Many factors have to be considered while doing right journal selection for your manuscript. Most novice researchers do not know the factors to be considered before submitting the manuscript to a journal. If the journal is not related to the topic of your research, the article would be rejected even without being subjected to peer review process. Now, let us understand which factors need to be considered for journal selection.

  • Topic of research: Each journal has aims and scopes, which should be explored and matched with the topic of research. Suppose a researcher has written an article on novel therapies for lung cancer, then the researcher should submit the paper to a journal whose name and scope is aligned with lung cancer therapy.
  • Types of articles: Many journals publish a certain type of article. Full length paper will not be published in a journal that publishes only case study. Moreover, a systematic review would not be appropriate for publication in a journal of manuscripts.
  • Journal’s impact factor: Before submitting a paper to a journal, always consider the impact factor of the journal. Greater the impact factor of the journal, higher is the visibility of the article. Papers published in high impact journals usually receive greater citations and credibility.
  • Journal’s target audience: The content of the article should be compliant with the target audience of the journal. If an article is about latest medications and therapies, then the article would be read by a clinical journal and not by a chemical journal. There are many interdisciplinary fields of study, such as robotic surgery in bioinformatics. These papers are read by both surgeons and biomedical engineers.
  • Length of the article: Most journals have laid down strict wordcount restrictions. In general, most biomedical journals do not want abstracts that are more than 250 words. Similarly, most academic journals accept papers that have a wordcount of 3000-5000 words. A pre-press service author education company should be hired to concise the article and abstract and adhere to wordcount restrictions. These wordcount limits are usually displayed in the “Instructions to Authors” Tab of the journal’s website.
  • The type of journal: Science Citation Index (SCI), Open Access (OA), and Hybrid are the three types of journals in academic publishing. The leading publishers are Elsevier, Springer, Nature, Wiley, etc. In general, most Asian researchers publish in SCI journals, while most European researchers prefer to publish in OA journals. Today, hybrid mode of publishing includes the benefits of both SCI and OA journals, so it is now used by researchers all across the world.

Based on these factors, researchers should select three closely related journals for publication of their manuscript.






Identify world’s leading journals in the Journal Citation Reports published by Web of Science

Clarivate Analytics is a leading player in the STM publishing industry, providing truthful insights into the world of academic publishing. On the 29th of June, 2020, Clarivate Analytics released its Journal Citation Reports (JCR), an important document that is published annually on the Web of Science. The JCR document is important for the global academic community as it provides an insight into high-quality academic journals of the international community.

All academic journals are ranked on the basis of several indicators, visualizations, and data. The report is a quantitative estimate of the impact created by academic journals in their field of study. The report specifically scrutinizes the quality of research published in prestigious journals and how they were promoted to the international community of researchers.

To compile this report, Clarivate Analytics team made use of the 2019 data presented in the Web of Science Core Collection, which is a flagship brand of the company and a global citation database that is publisher-neutral. Clarivate Analytics invited a global team of experts to curate the structured data presented in the 2019 Web of Science Core Collection.

To accurately evaluate the impact factor of academic journals, the team of experts carefully evaluated the content presented in the selected collection of books, conference proceedings, and journals. This report is used to estimate the true worth of a journal in the academic community, which consists of researchers, editors, publishers, investors, and librarians. Their main goal is to promote high-impact journals to a diverse set of audiences.

Although vast data of metrics is available in the JCR report, the most widely used metric is the “ Web of Science journal impact factor” in academic publishing. So, what really are the key highlights of the JCR report published in 2020? Let us first explore the selection criteria for the inclusion of journals. In the 2020 JCR report, the experts have added 351 new journals to the inclusion list.

Out of them, 178 journals are completely “Open Access” in nature. Given that most researchers have flocked to the OA model of publishing, JCR report included 1600 OA journals in 2020. Nevertheless, JCR report has compiled the impact-factor of 12,000 journals from 236 research fields of hard sciences and social sciences. These journals were selected from 83 countries spread across five continents of the earth.

The JCR report of 2020 has evaluated the open access publishing model through new descriptive data. This implies that the report includes data on the access model used for reading articles of each journal. Thus, the JCR report of 2020 provides transparent, publisher-neutral information to the community of researchers on whether they can access “free-to-read” articles in a journal.

Moreover, the report also provides information on whether the articles can be re-used through Creative Commons Licenses, which are usually issued through “gold open access model”. Finally, the report presents the overall citations and the volume of content presented by each journal.

One of the key highlights of the JCR report is the fact that it includes 7487 hybrid journals in its 2020 edition. Moreover, these hybrid journals are innovatively classified in order to enable readers to quickly identify the following features of these journals: 1) The number of papers published through the conventional subscription model, and 2) the number of papers published through the Creative Common Licenses, which establishes the “gold open access model.”

Now that we know the classification criteria of each type of journal, let’s explore the objectives behind the journal selection process. In the JCR report of 2020, Clarivate Analytics has excluded 33 journals that did not conform to the standards of academic integrity. Thus, the JCR report of 2020 has excluded 0.27% of the listed journals.

These journals have exhibited anomalous behavior in terms of citation. There have been strong evidences to prove that the journals had many cases of self-citation and stacked citation. These situations do not conform with the disciplinary norms put forth by the JCR review committee of experts.

Another important disciplinary action exercised by the JCR review committee is as follows: An “Editorial Expression of Concern” was issued to as many as 15 academic journals, which contained one or more published articles with an unusually high number of journal citations. These citations were disproportionately associated with JIF. The editorial board of Clarivate Analytics will scrutinize low-quality content of this type to prevent any distortions of the Journal Impact Factor.

Keith Collier is a senior vice president of products at the Science Group of Clarivate Analytics. In a press release of the 2020 JCR report, Keith Collier issued the following statement: Web of Science Citation Reports has been providing unbiased data on journal citations for the past 40 years, so the academic community has been following this report consistently for these many years.

It gives a glimpse of the world’s leading journals in the field of hard sciences and social sciences. The research community includes all academic editors, librarians, researchers, publishers, and institutions. They can carefully evaluate the selected journals to make informed decisions about their publications. The report helps them understand citation trends of academic journals.

In the year 2020, Clarivate Analytics made concerted efforts to accelerate the pace of innovation in academia. They have updated the parameters of self-citation and added a new paradigm of descriptive data, which will provide the research community with a better insight on the evolving models of academic publishing.

In the 2020 JCR report, a wide number of indicators are used for evaluating each journal’s profile. The most noteworthy among them is the “Web of Science Impact Factor.” It indicates the average frequency of citation received by a journal in a particular year.

Moreover, the report also presents “Immediacy Index,” which indicates the frequency of citing an average article from a journal in the same year of publication. After classifying the journals according to their category, the journal impact factor indicates the rank of the journal. This metric is expressed in terms of percentile.