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2013 impact factors are out

August 4, 2014

Below is a quick analysis of the data for our field of research (especially heterogeneous catalysis, but also materials science, etc.).

Before going further, I have to say: “I agree!”.

I agree, IF are not an appropriate tool to assess the quality and impact of an individual paper (a posteriori individual metrics like @altmetrics can do the job). IF are not always a good way to evaluate the quality of journals either.

Still they are probably the best way to quantify on average for the last 2 years the impact of individual journals and to compare them (see here for definition).

I said “impact”! Not quality. Impact can be fostered by quality… but also by marketing! Thus, if one can trust high impact journals will only select the highest quality science, cynical observers will always point to the ways the system can be biased.

In any case, I personally think IF can be a good indication of the audience and impact I can expect for my publications. And I use them – among other criteria – to decide where I will submit my prose. Let’s face it: not every single paper will deserve a tentative submission to Nature or Angewandte Chemie!

Thus, I made a quick collection of the IF for the journals in our field of research (especially heterogeneous catalysis but I also add many titles from chemistry, materials chemistry, surface science and physical chemistry for comparison purpose). Below you can find two graphs ranking the journals by IF. For the sake of readability, I have split very high impact journals (IF>10) from the rest. I did not consider journals scoring below IF=2.

IF 2013 top

In the top journals, one can find the generalist titles like Science and Nature but also all the more specialized journals from Nature Publishing Group as well as review-only journals (Chem. Rev. and Chem. Soc. Rev.). For purely chemistry journals, J. Am. Chem. Soc. is just ahead of Angewandte Chemie. Several materials chemistry journals are scoring very high too (Adv. Mater. etc.). It has to be highlighted that no journal strictly focused on catalysis is emerging in this top list. Note that it is still possible to publish “catalysis papers” in the listed top journals (see our own recent work here and here for example 😉 ). Impact might be higher (broader readership). But you also have to be aware that your manuscript will be diluted in a sea of other chemistry papers.

IF 2013 middle

Only 4 years after its launch, ACS catalysis made it to the top among the journals strictly focused on catalysis, with an impressive 7.5. J. Catal. and Appl. Catal. B are still scoring very high too (~6). The other two recent titles (ChemCatChem and Catal. Sci. Technol.) are relatively high (~5), well above other established titles like Appl. Catal. A, Catal. Today, Catal. Commun., Topics Catal. or Catal. Lett.

Every year, we are looking at trends. Which journal is taking over the other ones? I have plotted below the relative win/loss for each journal between 2012 and 2013. Angewandte Chemie is a little bit down this year. Materials Today is booming (I don’t know why but this journal has a hectic history in terms of IF).

IF 2013 top delta

Apart from the top list, one can notice the fact that most catalysis journals are experiencing an IF increase, except Top. Catal. We should highlight the performance of Adv. Catal. and that of ACS Catal. Also, after a modest debut, Catal. Sci. Technol. has made an important step forward this year.

IF 2013 middle delta

As a conclusion, I would recommend to take these data for what they are: an average indicator of the impact the journals have had in the past. High IF is not a guarantee for your paper to get a high amount of citations. High quality is needed first. Nevertheless, visibility and audience are important too. Therefore, choosing the right journal for the right paper is crucial.

Good luck!




(data from the Journal Citation Report®)


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  1. Please check out my following post where the discussion is continued with a comparison between impact factors and the SJR index proposed by Scopus.
    Is the SJR a better metrics?

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