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Should editors influence journal impact factors?

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The journal impact factor is widely used as a performance indicator for single authors (despite its unsuitably in this respect). Hence, authors are increasingly exercised if there is any sign that impact factors are being manipulated. Editors who ask authors to cite relevant papers from their own journal are accused of acting unethically. This is surprising because, besides publishers, authors are the primary beneficiaries of an increased impact factor of the journal in which they publish, and because the citation process is biased anyway. There is growing evidence that quality and relevance are not always the reasons for choosing references. Authors' biases and personal environments as well as strategic considerations are major factors. As long as an editor does not force authors to cite irrelevant papers from their own journal, I consider it as a matter of caretaking for the journal and its authors if an editor brings recent papers to the authors' attention. It would be unfair to authors and disloyal to the publisher if an editor did not try to increase the impact of his/her own journal.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • Editor in Chief: Pippa Smart
    North American Editor: Judy Luther

    Learned Publishing is the journal of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, published in collaboration with the Society for Scholarly Publishing. The journal is published quarterly in January/April/July/October.

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    Learned Publishing will be moving to Wiley-Blackwell as of January 1, 2016. Please contact the publisher at for information on how to continue access to this title.

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