Wikipedia:Scholarly journal

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Independent, peer-reviewed publications such as academic journals or specialist trade magazines are important places to find reliable sources on Wikipedia, particularly for new concepts or cutting-edge research that may not yet appear in textbooks. There is serious disagreement among scholars about the validity and/or applicability of measurements such as the Science Citation Index (SCIdex) and Impact Factor which are bibliometrics calculated for academic journals to gauge how often a journal's articles are independently cited. The journal's Impact Factor should not be considered as a decisive factor on whether it should be the subject of a standalone article in Wikipedia.

Sometimes an article about a scholarly journal or specialist trade magazine will appear at Articles for Deletion. Users citing this essay believe there should be a presumption to keep such articles provided they can be established as verifiable and independent. In other words, we believe the notability standards for such publications should be relatively inclusive, even if the journal is a new startup, and even if the organisation or company responsible for the publication are the (main) writers and editors of the article, maintaining of course the usual behavioural standards set in WP:COI.

Editors should be able to establish notability of these journals based on adequate citations in reliable sources from articles published in the journal as well as references to the journal in other independent journals, or as citations are found by the usual searches, particularly JSTOR, Google Books or Scholar.

Wikipedia articles are largely built on inline references that cite to journals, etc. In the Wikipedia citation, the name of the journal often is internally wikilinked (e.g., doubled square brackets [[ ]] are put around the journal name). If the scholarly journal is widely used within Wikipedia as a source in articles, then for utilitarian reasons that should be taken into account in determining whether Wikipedia should have at least a stub article on the journal in order to provide more information to users about the cited reference. Even a low-quality publication, such as Homeopathy (journal), may be notable if it has attracted sufficient notoriety. High quality scholarly journals are rarely controversial, and so may be boring as subjects for Wikipedia articles, yet they are important for their publication of reliable sources. Helping users locate journal metadata (information about the journal) is part of helping them to make their own assessment of the reliability of content in those journals and hence to verify statements for which our articles cite them in support.

No magic number[edit]

An impact factor measures how many times a journal's articles are cited in other journal articles. There is no "magic" or "good" number for impact factors.

In particular, citation patterns, and therefore impact factors, differ significantly across academic disciplines. The average impact factor for fields such as mathematics, history, and education is around 0.5.[1] The average impact factor for information science, business, crop science, dentistry, and orthopedics is around 1. The average impact factor environmental studies and law is around 1.5. The average impact factor for physics, pathology, ophthalmology, and medical imaging is around 2. The average impact factor for general medicine and neuroscience is around 3. The only fields with an average impact factor above 4 are astronomy and molecular and cell biology.

This doesn't mean that MCB journals are eight times better than mathematics and history journals, or that general medicine is three times better than orthopedic surgery. It only means that mathematicians and historians generally find it necessary to cite fewer journal articles in each paper than biologists.

In general, impact factors are higher if:

  • the journal focuses on general subjects (e.g., medicine) instead of niche specialties (e.g., orthopedics) or region-specific information (e.g., agricultural research or law in a specific country)
  • the journal publishes in a (currently) fashionable or well-funded area
  • the journal publishes deliberately provocative papers, in the expectation that they will be cited repeatedly by authors who want to disagree or object to the paper. This causes the impact factor to rise, because all citations are treated equally.
  • articles accepted by the journal tend to have more authors than average (which means more people who will cite that article in their future work)
  • authors think their articles are more likely to be accepted if they sprinkle needless citations to previous publications by possible reviewers, or to previous publications in the journal they submit the paper to
  • the journal publishes in a field that uses journal articles as their primary official communication (e.g., biology), rather than books (e.g., history).

See also[edit]