Olympian Impact Factors: Top Journals in Exercise and Sports Science and Medicine for 2008
12, 22-24, 2008 (sportsci.org/2008/wghif.htm)
Partly because researchers find journal impact factors interesting, partly because no other trustworthy objective measure of journal importance currently exists, and partly because I am always short of copy for Sportscience, I am pleased to present once again the annual list of impact factors for journals in our disciplines. The impact factor represents the number of citations that a journal’s average recent (2005-2006) article received in all 2007 journal articles. The factors are compiled by Thomson Scientific and published as Journal Citation Reports each year around June-July. Access to the reports is possible only via an institutional subscription. Consult last year’s summary and the links there to earlier summaries for more information on the impact factor.
Table 1 shows the table of impact factors, with journals sorted alphabetically and movements in the factor color coded. To comply with Thomson Scientific’s policy of acceptable use, I am allowed to show only this year’s factors, and I have had to show some of the lower impact factors as inequalities. The ranking of the journals specializing in sport or exercise is shown in the Abstract of this article, whereas the table includes journals of a more generic nature that accept articles on some aspect of exercise or sport science or medicine. Some of these journals, for example those devoted to applied physiology, have higher impact factors that reflect the greater level of activity in those disciplines. For the same reason, journals with a specific focus, such as sport history, have low impact factors that do not necessarily reflect article quality.
Dissatisfaction with this and other aspects of the impact factor has led to a proposal for ranking journals based on the pagerank algorithm Google uses to rank hits. Pagerank is essentially a measure of how many citations a journal receives from journals that receive higher rates of citation. As such, it is described as a measure of prestige. (For more, see an article in Wikipedia.) Alas, the measure does not seem to be adjusted in any way for journal size, so journals with more articles receive more citations: prestige, it seems, is all about being big. The Journal of Biological Chemistry is huge (37,920 pages last year), which probably explains why only Nature beat it to the top of the pagerank list. Nature is much smaller (~6500 pages last year) but gets far more citations per article (impact factor 29 vs JBC’s 5.6). The pagerank divided by the annual number of articles would be a more sensible measure of prestige.
This year I made the effort to understand other citation statistics featured in the Journal Citation Reports. The cited half-life is described as “the median age of the articles cited in the JCR year… A higher or lower cited half-life does not imply any particular value for a journal.” I skimmed values of this statistic for the sport science journals, and I have to agree there is no obvious useful information in this statistic for researchers. The immediacy index refers to “the average number of times an article is cited in the year it is published… For comparing journals specializing in cutting-edge research, the immediacy index can provide a useful perspective.” Perhaps, but I would argue not for journals in exercise and sport science.
Scientific, Inc. is the publisher and copyright owner of the Journal Citation
Published July 2008