MEM INST OSWALDO CRUZ, RIO DE JANEIRO, 100(5) August 2005
PAGES: 457-458 DOI: Editorial
Impact factor evolution on memórias do instituto oswaldo cruz

José Rodrigues Coura, Luciane CB Willcox

Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz has published, in the 2002-2004 triennium, 602 articles: 582 original articles, 17 review articles, and 3 editorials. In 2002, its 254 publications were cited 405 times by ISI (Institute for Scientific Information) indexed journals, according to data from Journal Citation Reports (JCR), June 2005; the citations per article varied from one to 51, whereas the 177 publications of 2003 were cited 167 times, varying from one to 11 citations per article. Considering that the 430 works published in both years have been cited 572 times, this means a rate of 1.33 citations per article, indicating an excellent progress in terms of impact factor. In order to calculate the impact factor, it is necessary to divide the number of times the articles published by the journal are cited in the former two years, by the number of annual published articles. Memórias has reached an index of 0.740, for 2002-2004 period (Table I, Fig. 1).

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It may be observed in Fig. 1 and Table I that the impact factor of Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz has been increasing over the past years, revealing a significant evolution from 1994 to 2004. Besides, the number of searches for on-line complete texts, of summary requests, as well as the number of total hits have also been increasing exponentially, showing a monthly variation over the last 32 months, especially since June 2003, according to Fig. 2 and Table II, representing the period from October 2002 until July 2005 (source Bioline International).

According to a correspondence of August 8, 2005 from Jen Sweezie, Project Coordinator at Bioline International, The Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz is the largest publication on the Bioline International system and we feel it draws many users to our website. In recent usage statistics, it has the highest number of hits, and we are very pleased with the journal on our system (see Fig. 2).

Although the quality and relevance of published articles affect how often they are cited in the work of others, many other factors also have an effect on a journal's impact factor by affecting the number of citations, the number of source items, or both (Christopher MM 2003. The impact factor: getting a grip.Vet Clin Pathol 32: 98-100). To cite only a few:

• Visibility of the journal - It is mainly affected by circulation, indexing, and on-line access. Only articles that are "found" can be cited.

• Review articles - They are cited more than twice as often as other articles.

• Case reports - These are the least cited type of publication.

• Method articles - They are not cited more often and do not affect the impact factor differently than do other original articles.

• Citation practices - Self-citation, citing articles without reading them, the tendency to cite English language articles, citing a poor quality study to illustrate a point, and restricting the number of references per articles, affect impact factors.

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Another question is: how to define quality? Is a good paper considered so because it was published in a reputable journal? Or because it comes from a reputable institution? Ideally, the evaluation of the quality of a given article should not require knowledge of who wrote it, where it was published, or even how often it was cited. Quality is inherent to the article itself, and distinct from what is done with the article. Of course the quality of the article a journal publishes reflects the quality of the manuscripts submitted, the selection criteria used by the journal, and the extent to which the reviews improve the final version.

Although, on previous article, we have already discussed "Impact factors, scientific production and quality of Brazilian average journals" (Coura & Willcox 2003. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz 98: 293-297), we recommend the reading of Nature 435: 1003-1004 (23 June 2005) editorial, which states, among other important comments, the following: Impact factors don't tell as much as some people think about the quality of the science the journals are publishing.

José Rodrigues Coura 
Luciane CB Willcox

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