How well are journal and clinical article characteristics associated with the journal impact factor? a retrospective cohort study

J Med Libr Assoc. 2012 Jan;100(1):28-33. doi: 10.3163/1536-5050.100.1.006.


Objective: Journal impact factor (JIF) is often used as a measure of journal quality. A retrospective cohort study determined the ability of clinical article and journal characteristics, including appraisal measures collected at the time of publication, to predict subsequent JIFs.

Methods: Clinical research articles that passed methods quality criteria were included. Each article was rated for relevance and newsworthiness by 3 to 24 physicians from a panel of more than 4,000 practicing clinicians. The 1,267 articles (from 103 journals) were divided 60∶40 into derivation (760 articles) and validation sets (507 articles), representing 99 and 88 journals, respectively. A multiple regression model was produced determining the association of 10 journal and article measures with the 2007 JIF.

Results: Four of the 10 measures were significant in the regression model: number of authors, number of databases indexing the journal, proportion of articles passing methods criteria, and mean clinical newsworthiness scores. With the number of disciplines rating the article, the 5 variables accounted for 61% of the variation in JIF (R(2) = 0.607, 95% CI 0.444 to 0.706, P<0.001).

Conclusion: For the clinical literature, measures of scientific quality and clinical newsworthiness available at the time of publication can predict JIFs with 60% accuracy.

MeSH terms

  • Abstracting and Indexing / statistics & numerical data
  • Cohort Studies
  • Journal Impact Factor*
  • Journalism, Medical / standards
  • Models, Statistical
  • Regression Analysis
  • Research Design
  • Retrospective Studies