Impact of high ranking journals is declining?

Research Information is reporting of a new research which suggests that the importance of high ranking journals has declined since 80s and 90s. The researchers analyzed two groups of journals traditional high ranking journals (NatureScienceProceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), CellLancetNew England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), och the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)) and emerging journals PLoS One, Nano Letters, Advanced Materials, Nature Materials, Journal of Clinical Oncology och Chemical Reviews.

The results show that the high ranking journals published fewer top-cited articles than they did 20 to 25 years ago. The results also show that the number of top-cited articles published in the emerging journals is increasing. Although the decline the top-ranked journals are still important and of course prestigious to publish in.

There are evidently a couple of reasons why publishing patterns are changing. The authors contribute changes to the fact that articles are not as connected to the journal where they were published as before since the articles are directly available in databases; researcher does not need to know the volume or issue anymore to get hold of the article. Internet has made spreading and publishing research easier and also, many of the emerging journals are open access and freely available for the reader. Furthermore, the authors write that researchers use several different sources now compared to before. The research does not even have to be published in the traditional sense. It just has to be accessible and downloadable. It will be cited if it is deemed relevant.

Additional reason for the decrease can be that the high ranked journals have high refusal rate. It is better to choose a journal which has a faster publishing process and that will most probably reach the same audience.

It is better to publish open access journals and then share the reference via Twitter, ResearchGate or other to get faster spreading. It is also increasingly important to judge the quality of a specific article than looking at the journal it is published in since publishing patterns are dynamic.

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Text: Pieta Eklund