Impact of Abstracts and Short Reports
(Letters to the Editor)
Canadian Medical Association Journal, 162(4) p. 489-490, February 22, 2000

If you add abstracts and if they are included as source items you would dilute the impact factor. If a journal publishes abstracts and they are not included by ISI in the database, then any citations to them would tend to increase the impact factor. In other ISI databases where each source item is linked to its citations (for example, the Journal Performance Indicators database), the effect would not be noticed. I checked the Web of Science [a Web interface for ISI's citation databases] and found that abstracts for Gastroenterology are included. From the point of view of current dissemination of information this is very important. It does mean that any citations to these abstracts would tend to inflate the impact factor. If you check the ISI's Journal Performance Indicators file you can determine just how much these extra citations affect this journal or any other.

Eugene Garfield
Chairman Emeritus
Institute for Scientific Information
Philadelphia, Pa.



 
 
 

In the recent editorial on CMAJ's impact factor1 what is the basis for the statement that "short reports ... are less likely to be cited"? Brevity by itself is not the problem. Consider Watson and Crick's 1953 paper!However, the increased number of short reports may lead to a lower average impact. I would think that these short reports would eventually be supplemented by more definitive or complete papers so that long-term impact might be affected, but in the short run you might be surprised at the outcome.

Eugene Garfield
Chairman Emeritus
Institute for Scientific Information
Philadelphia, Pa.

References

1.    Joseph KS, Hoey J. CMAJ's impact factor: room for recalculation [editorial]. CMAJ 1999; 161 (8):977-8.

2.    Watson J, Crick F. Molecular structure of nucleic acids. Nature 1953;171:737-8.



 
 

[The editor-in-chief responds:]
 

I have no data to support our contention that short reports are less likely
to be cited. The Watson and Crick paper is a superb counter-example to our statement. However, looking through the short reports that are now published in the Lancet and that we publish, I would guess that they are less likely to have as major or as lasting an effect on the scientific literature as the longer, more complete scientific articles although some will.

John Hoey