Impact factor versus impact to readers: not necessarily at odds.
- Valentin Fuster
- Journal of the American College of Cardiology
I n 2014, when the Journal first reached number 1 in impact factor (IF) for cardiovascular journals, I wrote that an editor’s first responsibility is to always publish original research and review articles that will have the greatest impact on our readers and on their clinical practice (1). I pointed out that IF remains an imperfect metric, but is one by which we are judged externally (1). Since that time, I have often said that IF does not drive the decisionmaking of the JACC Editorial Board when selecting manuscripts or creating new content strategies, as we constantly seek to publish papers that will have the most relevance for the clinician and the clinical investigator. I am proud to say that we continue to achieve this goal on a weekly basis. In 2013, the 3 top cardiovascular journals were separated by only a <0.65-point differential (1). When the 2016 IF was released in June, we learned that the same 3 journals were separated by a <0.587-point differential—which makes me question even more the credibility of these IF rankings, given the infinitesimal difference between the journals each year. As a clinical comparison, if a patient presented 1 year with a blood urea nitrogen level of 8.1 mg/dl, and presents the following year with 8.9 mg/dl, would you change your approach to that patient? What I am trying to say is that with such slight differences between the top journals, we need another way—a better way—to determine their value to us as cardiovascular clinicians and investigators. Thus, I would encourage you to look at the strategies of our major cardiovascular journals, and how these journals garner citations to determine their value in your professional lives. Journals that simply focus on IF to determine their editorial decisions can alter the numbers drastically.