Impact Factors of Journals in Sport and Exercise Science
Will G Hopkins PhD
Department of Physiology and School of Physical Education,
Sportscience 4(3), sportsci.org/jour/0003/wgh.html, 2000 (1592 words)
Reviewed by Frank I Katch, Department of Exercise Science, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003
The Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) publishes an annual summary of indices related to citations in scientific periodicals. The impact factor is probably the most important of these indices. ISI defines the impact factor as "the average number of current citations to articles the journal published in the previous two years" (ISI, 2000). To calculate the current impact factor of a journal, ISI counted the articles published in the journal in 1998 and 1999, counted the number of times those articles were cited in all other articles published before March 2000, then divided the number of citations by the number of articles. In simple terms, an impact factor of 2.0 for a journal means that the average recent article in the journal has been mentioned in 2.0 other recent articles.
Frequent mention of an article in other articles implies that the article is influential within its discipline. The impact factor represents the average influence of a journal's articles, so it is an objective measure of the influence of the journal and probably also a good index of overall quality of its articles. It is apparently for this reason that journal impact factors have become a consideration in the assessment of a researcher's publications for the purpose of appointment or promotion. Researchers concerned about their career development should therefore take impact factors into account before they submit their work for publication.
Table 1 shows a list of the impact factors of most journals that publish articles in exercise and sport science. The list of journal titles came from the Kinesiology Forum, where each title is linked to instructions for authors. I edited the list before inviting subscribers on the Sportscience mailing list to suggest other journal titles. I then added the available impact factors from the ISI report. I have also put the factors and titles into an Excel spreadsheet and added columns identifying the sub-disciplines for each journal. Click here to download this list, then sort it by a sub-discipline and impact factor.
The list in Table 1 includes Nature, Science, and several other high-impact multidisciplinary journals. Such journals will consider exercise or sport research articles of exceptional originality, topicality, or relevance to the wider scientific community. For a recent example, see Lasne and de Ceaurriz (2000). Publication of an article in these journals enhances the careers of the researchers and improves the standing of exercise and sport science as a discipline.
Be cautious when comparing impact factors of journals in disciplines that differ in overall publication activity. Disciplines with higher rates of publication have more journals, so for purely statistical reasons these disciplines have a wider range in impact factors. The range then widens as researchers submit their best work to the best journals and cite articles only in the best journals. In the active disciplines of genetics, biochemistry, and immunology, some journals have impact factors that exceed 10, whereas impact factors of journals that publish articles predominantly in exercise and sport science are currently all less than 3.0. It may be wrong to conclude that the average quality of research in exercise and sport science is inferior to that in disciplines with more extreme impact factors, or that the typical variation in quality is wider among researchers in disciplines with a higher total research output.
Institute for Scientific Information (2000). 1999 journal citation reports (science and social science editions). Philadelphia, PA: ISI
Lasne F, de Ceaurriz J (2000). Recombinant erythropoietin in urine. Nature 405, 635