The Journals World Cup 2005: Impact Factors for Sport Science
Will G Hopkins
Sportscience 10, 9-11, 2006 (sportsci.org/j2006/wghif.htm)
Notwithstanding my previous public pronouncements about the misuse of the journal impact factor, I have been unable to resist sharing the latest ratings with you. Once again I am obliged to publish an incomplete list, to comply with the policy of acceptable use of the organization that compiles the impact factors, Thomson Scientific. See my previous article for more information on this and other issues related to the impact factor.
This year I have presented the impact factors in a manner that highlights changes since the previous year. Values of the impact factor range over more than two orders of magnitude, so changes are probably best expressed as percents. (For those of you with an interest in statistical analysis, the impact factor would probably have acceptable uniformity of error after log transformation). After calculating and examining the percent changes since last year, I decided to identify five bands of change, as shown in the Abstract and in Table 1. Most of the changes were positive, indicating growth in our discipline, although I don't know how this growth compares with that of other disciplines.
The median value for the impact factor of journals in sport science is 1.0. In other words, if you published a paper in the median journal in 2003 or 2004, it was cited on average only once in all journals in 2005. When I viewed median impact factors for other disciplines at the citations site, I was somewhat surprised to learn that sport science is similar to health care, applied physics, rehabilitation, surgery, general medicine, orthopedics and zoology. The highest median impact factors are found in the disciplines of virology (2.7) and genetics (2.6), while history and philosophy of science (0.4) and some branches of engineering (0.3) have the lowest. A related citation statistic is the aggregate impact factor, which is the average citation rate of papers in each discipline. The rate for sport science is 1.6, which means the average recent paper was cited 1.6 times last year. Aggregate rates for the other disciplines ranged from 8.5 down to 0.1. The only meaningful conclusions that I can make from such data are (a) most of us don't get cited as much as we would like, (b) citation-wise, sport science is similar to many long-established and respected disciplines, and therefore (c) we needn't feel inferior to other academics.
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Published June 2006