Vayssairat M. "Impact factor and "Journal des Maladies Vasculaires". JOURNAL DES MALADIES VASCULAIRES 29 (3): 131-132 JUL 2004

Eugene Garfield garfield at CODEX.CIS.UPENN.EDU
Fri Apr 22 17:05:10 EDT 2005

E-mail Addresses: michel.vayssairat at

Title    : Impact factor and "Journal des Maladies Vasculaires".

Author(s): Vayssairat M

Source   : JOURNAL DES MALADIES VASCULAIRES 29 (3): 131-132 JUL 2004

Document Type: Editorial Material     Language: French
Cited References: 0                   Times Cited: 0

Addresses: Vayssairat M (reprint author), Univ Paris 06, Hop Tenon, 4,Rue
Chine, Paris, F-75970 20 France
Univ Paris 06, Hop Tenon, Paris, F-75970 20 France

E-mail Addresses: michel.vayssairat at


IDS Number: 841HP
ISSN: 0398-0499


Impact factor and the Journal des Maladies Vasculaires.
Vayssairat M. J Mal Vasc 2004 ; 29, 3 : 131-132

Université de Paris VI, Hôpital Tenon, 4, rue de la Chine 75970 Paris Cedex
20, France.

The Journal des Maladies Vasculaires has an impact factor of 0.632. Just a
raw figure that means a lot, the arithmetic fruit of  years of hard work
throughout the discipline.

The impact factor ranks journals by number of citations in the medical
literature. The more articles are cited, the higher the impact factor, and
inversely. The raw figure is smoothed over a period of two years to avoid
ups and downs. The final figure is calculated as the number of citations
published in years n-1 and n-2 divided by the total number of articles
published in years n-1 and n-2.

There are two types of medical journals: those indexed in Current Contents
(which determines the impact factor) and those which are not indexed. These
latter journals are often considered medical magazines rather than real
scientific publications. They are nevertheless very useful for diffusing
general information and provide a high-level source for continuing
education. These journals have a wide readership and are especially
appreciated by the pharmaceutical industry, their principal source of
funding. Authors are less inclined to publish spontaneously in these
journals which generally solicit papers written by authors for a fee.

Journals with an impact factor are much different in nature. They are more
difficult to read and each individual article only interests a small number
of readers. All articles are reviewed by a tough Editorial Board which
carefully evaluates manuscripts before publication. The papers published
have to fit the classical schema with a structured abstract and the standard
sections - introduction, methods, results, discussion, and references -
which can make rather drab reading. All submitted manuscripts are read and
reread (authors, editors, referees, publisher, galley proofs, etc.)

Were it not for the magnificent database Medline, the potential reader could
get lost in this huge market of several million articles per year, but on
the Internet everyone is just a few clicks away from a selection of the two
or three articles of interest. Without this complementary and free tool, the
medical literature would be a second tour of Babel, something like a
dictionary where the words would be listed at random instead of in
alphabetical order. Just for fun, try typing in the name of a friend (or
enemy), a colleague or any possible medical author in the Medline search
(name and initials). Click on the Go on the right and in less than two
seconds you get a list of the publications referenced for this author. At
the bottom of the first page, there is a shaded line giving the total number
of publications for this author in referenced journals. This simple figure,
which does not take into consideration the quality of the publications, is
an interesting piece of information, which for many of us could inspire a
bit more circumspection about our modest number of publications.

The Journal des Maladies Vasculaires has had a remarkable track record: from
0.121 in 1993, its impact factor has risen regularly, two-fold in 1999 and
three-fold in 2001, and even five-fold now. This remarkable leap is has been
possible because of the efforts of a large number of people, but first and
foremost, my predecessor, Professor Claude Olivier who worked the field and
seeded the ground so his successor could reap the harvest. It has also been
possible because those working in the diverse medical, surgical,
radiological, and biological fields of our discipline have made vascular
medicine a new specialty, different from cardiology despite its common
origin, and closer to internal medicine. Actually, since vessels irrigating
the different organs often have similar diseases, risk factors, and
treatments, our specialty lies at a crossroads of numerous disciplines. We
still have to invent a specific training program for vascular medicine, the
current capacity system being insufficient. We will have to construct a
curriculum where vascular medicine is clearly perceived as distinct from
cardiology, internal medicine, or vascular surgery, yet forming a common
link uniting cardiology and internal medicine and bridging the gap between
medicine and surgery.

The Journal des Maladies Vasculaires has three motors: our learned society,
the Collège Français de Pathologie Vasculaire, an annual congress in Paris
which regularly welcomes more than 1400 participants and has been going
strong for thirty-eight years, and an indexed scientific journal we can be
proud of.

With an impact factor of 0.632, the Journal des Maladies Vasculaires is just
behind the Annals of Vascular Surgery (0.852) published in English and just
ahead of the Archives des Maladies du Coeur et des Vaisseaux (0.416).
Several very good journals of vascular pathology have a lower impact factor:
Phlebology (in English) (0.314), VASA (English or German) (0.434). The
journals of internal medicine have made considerable progress in terms of
quality in the past few years but have not received due compensation: the
Revue de Medicine Interne had an impact factor of 0.396 and the prestigious
Presse Médicale published by Masson is at 0.395.

The impact factor is a useful evaluation criterion but it is not omnipotent.
One might consider it a good way for an Editor-in-chief to attract top notch
papers. Every Editor-in-chief thinks that his impact factor is
underevaluated, compared with the efforts to improve quality, but with
results not always up to expectations There could be many excuses, some
good, some bad. We could blame Lafayette or dream up some conjuration by our
English-speaking colleagues, but the facts are hard and we should find our
own solutions to our own problems.

One simple solution, not appreciated by our research organizations, is to
incite French authors to cite French journals. Sometimes it looks like
authors forget French journals on purpose. Do authors really believe that
the quality of their treasured piece of prose is proportional to the impact
factor of the citations in their list of references?

A second solution would be to set things straight with the University
authorities (and certain Deans) who dare tells us (even in writing !) to
voluntarily omit all publications in French journals in our list of titles
and publications. This way of thinking may be realistic but it is certainly
not very pragmatic. It is clearly suicidal for the entire system (including
research itself).

A third solution is to use the intelligence of the National University
Council. Certain members have come up with the idea of giving a boost to
certain journals by dissociating some publications from their impact factor.
This has been done by the Vascular Surgery, Vascular Medicine Council for
its candidate surgeons. It has had a negative effect on the Journal des
Maladies Vasculaires since our journal was not retained for this favorable

Here in France we have the best healthcare system in the world, admired by
all. The French people know that and are ready to demonstrate by millions in
the street to protect it against the slightest attack, too bad if it costs
so much. Those who know it can still be improved (physicians, researchers,
hospital or private practitioners) are its most virulent critics. Reforms
are necessary but those who give such good advice about change (namely for
example INSERM or CNRS) remind one of the pot calling the kettle black.
Impact factors can reach astronomic levels: 30 for Nature and 31 for the New
England Journal of Medicine. We can dream if we want and lament about not
being American but shouldn't forget the fable of the frog who wanted to be
as big as an ox. Wolves hunt in packs, and for us - physicians, researchers,
learned societies, universities, and medical journals - who by our
professions are responsible for the good of all, union is the pathway to

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