Semenzato G. Rizzato G. Agoostini C. "Impact factor as measure of scientific quality" American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 169(9):1070 May 1, 2004.

Eugene Garfield garfield at CODEX.CIS.UPENN.EDU
Fri Jul 9 14:14:04 EDT 2004

Gianpietro Semenzato [g.semenzato at]

The author has kindly provided a full-text version of the above mentioned
Letter.  The text follows at the end.

TITLE   : Impact Factor as measure of scientific quality (Letter)


SOURCE  : American Jopurnal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
          169(9):1070 May 1,2004. American Thoracic Society New York

AUTHOR  : G. Semenzato Sarcoidosis Vasculitis and Diffuse LungDis.

          Editorial  Office, Padua, Italy.


Letter to the Editor

Copyedited by MJ Tobin

February 4, 2004-02-04

Impact Factor as Measure of Scientific Quality of Journals
Dear Dr. Tobin,
We read with interest your recent Editorial on impact factor (1).  As you
outlined, editors are attentive to problems related to the impact factor of
their journal.  Speaking on behalf of the Editorial Office of Sarcoidosis,
Vasculitis and Diffuse Lung Disease (SVDLD), we were a bit surprised at not
seeing our journal included in figure 2 of your editorial, which showed the
impact factors of journals listed in the respiratory system category as
ranked by the Institute for Scientific Information (2).  Although SVDLD does
not encompass the spectrum of all respiratory system and critical care
medicine, our journal provides an interesting choice for publication in the
area of interstitial lung disease.  Our opinion is reinforced by the growing
interest of members of the pneumology community who, by publishing
outstanding papers in our journal, have caused our impact factor to grow
impressively in only a few years.  In 2002 the impact factor of SVDLD was
2.83, just a notch below that of Chest (2.97) and European Respiratory
Journal (2.93).  More importantly, the increase in impact factor of SVDLD is
very similar to that of AJRCCM (see Figure), and has increased by
approximately 100% since 1998.
 Aside from the above consideration, our feelings on the value of impact
factor are entirely consistent with the ideas presented in your Editorial
(3). People display two lines of thinking on this subject: some strongly
support the value of impact factor (we belong to this group), and others are
very critical of the measurement (4, 5).  We admit, however, that there are
disadvantages to the use of the impact factor, although these are linked to
inappropriate use of this bibliographic parameter rather than to an
intrinsic defect in the parameter (4). The first problem relates to the
transposition of the use of the impact factor from the evaluation of a
journal to the rating of authors. Also, in the case of academic evaluation,
expecially when rank of a journal is being used in deciding the
appropriateness of promoting an individual or the awarding a grant
application, it is sometimes inappropriate to compare authors working in
different areas through use of the simple “numbers” of impact factor.
Nevertheless, two points are undeniable:  the most quoted journals are those
most widely read and distributed; and a low or high international rating can
make the difference between success and failure of a journal.  Everybody has
experienced increased difficulty in being accepted by journals with the
highest impact factor because of the high number of competing manuscripts.
It is commonly understood that journals with the highest impact factor are
those that are forced to make a more accurate selection, ultimately choosing
the best papers.  Why should we not consider the impact factor as an index
of the quality of manuscripts published and thus of the prestige of the
In conclusion, we believe that the impact factor can decide the success or
failure of a journal. Arguments raised by detractors of impact factor are
frequently without a solid basis, since it is clear that the limitations of
this parameter are linked to its misleading use rather than an intrinsic
defect of the parameter.

Gianpietro Semenzato, MD
Gianfranco Rizzato, MD
Carlo Agostini, MD
Editorial Office, Sarcoidosis Vasculitis Diffuse Lung Disease
Padua University School of Medicine
Dept. Clinical & Experimental Medicine
Clinical Immunology Branch
Via Giustiniani 2,
35128 PADOVA - Italy

More information about the SIGMETRICS mailing list