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EDITORIALS

Optometry and Vision Science 2020 Journal Metrics

Twa, Michael D. OD, PhD, FAAO

Author Information
Optometry and Vision Science: August 2021 - Volume 98 - Issue 8 - p 865-866
doi: 10.1097/OPX.0000000000001778
  • Free

Optometry and Vision Science is in its 98th year of publication and currently publishes approximately 130 articles per year consisting of original articles, clinical case reports, clinical trials, evidence-based reviews, and technical reports. The journal serves a global audience of authors, readers, subscribers, and society members, by publishing a wide range of eye and vision-related translational research. This past year, the global COVID-19 pandemic has modified many elements of life and academic publishing was affected as well. In 2020, Optometry and Vision Science received a record number of submissions and we were not alone. The number of articles submitted for review increased significantly because many authors took time during lockdowns to complete manuscripts that were in progress.

Each year in June, the Institute for Scientific Information (a division of Clarivate) updates their annual journal citation analysis in the latest Journal Citation Report. This ranking, colloquially referred to as the impact factor, has evolved from Eugene Garfield's original vision, which was to capture key scientific and bibliographic metrics that could help inform data-driven decision making by academic librarians on which titles to hold in their collections. The use of journal impact factors has since been coopted for numerous other purposes including marketing by journal publishers, author rankings, scientific merit evaluations, and even academic promotion and tenure. Because higher journal impact factors can influence decisions and behavior, gaming of journal impact factors and dubious practices designed to artificially inflate citation metrics is a real problem that results in numerous sanctions each year. For example, self-citations and preference for review articles over original research are time-tested strategies that inflate author and journal metrics but yield no useful improvement in scientific quality. Thus, as you look over annual journal rankings provided by Clarivate, Scimago (Elsevier), Google, and other raters, consider the information provided with a dose of thoughtful contemplation and healthy skepticism. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

JOURNAL IMPACT FACTOR

This year, the journal impact factor for Optometry and Vision Science is up sharply to 2.0 (up from 1.5 last year), and the 5-year impact factor is 2.2 (up from 1.8 last year). Fewer than 40% of more than 13,000 journal titles have a journal impact factor of greater than 2.0. For those familiar with these rankings, they are commonly reported to three decimal places. I have reported the journal impact factor to one decimal place. Garfield himself eschewed reporting more than a single digit past the decimal point, calling anything more false precision. This impact factor places Optometry and Vision Science 44th of 62 total ophthalmology titles indexed by the Institute for Scientific Information.

H-INDEX

Optometry and Vision Science has a 3-year h-index of 97 as ranked by Scimago. The h-index for the journal is the number of articles (h) published that have received at least h citations over a set period. For example, 97 articles published 97 or more times in a 3-year period would give an h-index of 97. When all ophthalmology titles are rank ordered by h-index, Optometry and Vision Science is ranked 16th of all 124 titles in ophthalmology indexed by Scimago. This places Optometry and Vision Science among the very best titles in our discipline including Ophthalmology, Investigative Ophthalmology and Vision Science, JAMA Ophthalmology, American Journal of Ophthalmology, Vision Research, and the British Journal of Ophthalmology. When ranked by h-index, the nearest optometry journal other than Optometry and Vision Science ranks 26th with an h-index of 66. Journals that publish a larger proportion of review articles over original research tend to fall lower when rankings are compared by their h-index. For example, Progress in Retinal and Eye Research ranks first with a journal impact factor of 21.2 and publishes 95% review articles; however, it falls to seventh when ranked by h-index. The Ocular Surface ranks 7th with a journal impact factor of 5.0 and publishes 33% review articles; however, it falls to 27th when ranked by h-index.

TOTAL CITATIONS

Optometry and Vision Science is ranked 16 of 62 ophthalmology titles in the Journal Citation Report for total citations (Fig. 1). This number of total citations puts Optometry and Vision Science within the first quartile for all journal titles in the category of clinical medicine indexed by the Institute for Scientific Information. Total citations tend to favor larger journals with more publications, and that is the case for Optometry and Vision Science when compared with other titles.

F1
FIGURE 1:
Total citations in Optometry and Vision Science by year.

CONTRIBUTIONS BY REGION AND INSTITUTION

Optometry and Vision Science serves an international group of authors. The top regional representation by far is from authors in the Unites States, followed by Australia, Canada, China, and Spain. The top contributors by institution are the University of Houston, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of New South Wales Sydney, Harvard, and Indiana University. The journal has maintained support for a wide list of international authors, and currently, 25% of published articles come from authors outside the United States.

AN ENDURING MISSION

To improve impact factors, many journals have abandoned publishing clinical case reports, something that Optometry and Vision Science has not done. Over the past 5 years, 40% of the case reports published attracted no citations, and this has a detrimental impact on the journal's citation metrics. Nevertheless, clinical case reports are valuable to our community of authors and the society's mission. Eliminating case reports (content that attracts fewer citations) and expanding the number of review articles published would drive additional citations to the journal that would boost citations, improve impact factors, and improve rankings. However, as Optometry and Vision Science approaches its centennial year, we will remain focused on publishing quality original research that can advance the science and practice of modern clinical eye care.

Gaming metrics and the pursuit of short-term benefits that can come from their manipulation are nothing new—it is a competitive world, and there are advantages to be gained from increased public attention for journals and authors. However, publishing quality primary research content with long-term scientific value for more than a century is a very different objective, and that is the enduring mission of Optometry and Vision Science.

Michael D. Twa, OD, PhD, FAAO
Editor in Chief
University of Houston College of Optometry
Houston, TX

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