The latest impact factors (for 2007) have just been released from Thomson Reuters. They are as follows:
PLoS Biology – 13.5
PLoS Medicine – 12.6
PLoS Computational Biology – 6.2
PLoS Genetics – 8.7
PLoS Pathogens – 9.3
As we and others have frequently pointed out, impact factors should be interpreted with caution and only as one of a number of measures which provide insight into a journal’s, or rather its articles’, impact. Nevertheless, the 2007 figures for PLoS Biology and PLoS Medicine are consistent with the many other indicators (e.g. submission volume, web statistics, reader and community feedback) that these journals are firmly established as top-flight open-access general interest journals in the life and health sciences respectively.
The increases in the impact factors for the discipline-based, community-run PLoS journals also tally with indicators that these journals are going from strength to strength. For example, submissions to PLoS Computational Biology, PLoS Genetics and PLoS Pathogens have almost doubled over the past year – each journal now routinely receives 80-120 submissions per month of which around 20-25 are published. The hard work and commitment of the Editors-in-Chief and the Editorial Boards (here, here and here) are setting the highest possible standards for community-run open-access journals.
Another measure of impact is media coverage, and all of our journals routinely attract substantial media attention, which reflects the importance and public interest of much of the work that is published. Witness for example coverage of the recent research article about anti-depressants in PLoS Medicine. And our two newest journals, PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases and PLoS ONE, are no strangers to the world’s media (see the recent coverage of a PLoS ONE paper about pterosaurs). We provide regular digests of this media coverage both in traditional media and the blogosphere, via the ‘In the news’ channel of the PLoS blog.
Although Thomson is yet to index our two youngest journals, other indexing databases are. The subscription-only Scopus citation index (owned by Elsevier and, incidentally, including many more journals than Thomson’s offering) is already covering PLoS ONE (though so far, only as far back as June 2007). But authors don’t need to rely on subscription-only indexes such as those owned by Thomson and Elsevier, and can instead use the freely-available Google Scholar. Using Google Scholar, for example, one can find that the article by Neal Fahlgren and coauthors, about the cataloguing of an important class of RNA in plants and one of the most highly cited PLoS ONE articles so far has been cited 42 times – strong evidence that good research, even if published in a new journal, will rapidly find its place in the scientific record when it’s made freely available to all.