Posted April 7, 2004
Impact factor is widely regarded by authors and academic programs to be a measure of a journal's prestige and value and can be important for authors' career advancement in academic medicine. However, impact factor can be affected by a number of aspects unrelated to journal quality, including self-citation by a journal, publication timing, and types of articles published. As a result, impact factor has become a highly discussed issue among journal authors and editors. WAME list-serve discussions have addressed its benefits and fallacies. On the basis of this discussion, the WAME Board makes the following recommendations to WAME members:
More research is needed to evaluate the impact factor and other measures of journal and article quality. We urge fellow editors to consider important research questions and conduct research in this field. WAME offers its virtual discussion room for contacts and plans.
Journal editors should look beyond impact factor as a summary statistics and present other indicators of journal visibility, such as circulation, number of published articles, and the distribution of the citations. Such demographics of a journal should be regularly published to inform journal readers and authors.
Journal editors have the responsibility to educate their readers, authors, administrators, and their scientific community in general about impact factor and its relevance, as well as about other measures of journal and article quality.