Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages
Filter by Categories
15th National Conference of the IAOMFP, Chennai, 2006
Abstracts from current literature
Acne in India: Guidelines for management - IAA Consensus Document
Art & Psychiatry
Association Activities
Association Notes
Award Article
Book Review
Brief Report
Case Analysis
Case Letter
Case Letters
Case Notes
Case Report
Case Reports
Clinical and Laboratory Investigations
Clinical Article
Clinical Studies
Clinical Study
Conference Oration
Conference Summary
Continuing Medical Education
Cosmetic Dermatology
Current Best Evidence
Current View
Derma Quest
Dermato Surgery
Dermatosurgery Specials
Dispensing Pearl
Do you know?
Drug Dialogues
Editor Speaks
Editorial Remarks
Editorial Report
Editorial Report - 2007
Editorial report for 2004-2005
Fourth All India Conference Programme
From Our Book Shelf
From the Desk of Chief Editor
Get Set for Net
Get set for the net
Guest Article
Guest Editorial
How I Manage?
IADVL Announcement
IADVL Announcements
IJDVL Awards
IJDVL Awards 2018
IJDVL Awards 2019
IJDVL Awards 2020
IJDVL International Awards 2018
Images in Clinical Practice
In Memorium
Inaugural Address
Knowledge From World Contemporaries
Leprosy Section
Letter in Response to Previous Publication
Letter to Editor
Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor - Case Letter
Letter to the Editor - Letter in Response to Published Article
Letter to the Editor - Observation Letter
Letter to the Editor - Study Letter
Letter to the Editor - Therapy Letter
Letter to the Editor: Articles in Response to Previously Published Articles
Letters in Response to Previous Publication
Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor - Letter in Response to Previously Published Articles
Letters to the Editor: Case Letters
Letters to the Editor: Letters in Response to Previously Published Articles
Medicolegal Window
Miscellaneous Letter
Net Case
Net case report
Net Image
Net Letter
Net Quiz
Net Study
New Preparations
News & Views
Observation Letter
Observation Letters
Original Article
Original Contributions
Pattern of Skin Diseases
Pediatric Dermatology
Pediatric Rounds
Presedential Address
Presidential Address
Presidents Remarks
Report of chief editor
Report of Hon : Treasurer IADVL
Report of Hon. General Secretary IADVL
Research Methdology
Research Methodology
Resident page
Resident's Page
Resident’s Page
Residents' Corner
Residents' Corner
Residents' Page
Review Article
Review Articles
Revision Corner
Self Assessment Programme
Seminar: Chronic Arsenicosis in India
Seminar: HIV Infection
Short Communication
Short Communications
Short Report
Special Article
Specialty Interface
Study Letter
Symposium - Contact Dermatitis
Symposium - Lasers
Symposium - Pediatric Dermatoses
Symposium - Psoriasis
Symposium - Vesicobullous Disorders
Symposium Aesthetic Surgery
Symposium Dermatopathology
Symposium-Hair Disorders
Symposium-Nails Part I
Symposium-Nails-Part II
Therapeutic Guidelines
Therapeutic Guidelines - IADVL
Therapy Letter
View Point
What’s new in Dermatology
View/Download PDF
View Point
doi: 10.4103/0378-6323.120717
PMID: 24177604

Toward more meaningful evaluation of contributions and journals across different specialties: Introducing specialty impact factor

Sanjay Singh
 Department of Dermatology and Venereology, Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
Sanjay Singh
C-23, Swastik Towers, Lanka, Varanasi - 221 005, Uttar Pradesh
How to cite this article:
Singh S. Toward more meaningful evaluation of contributions and journals across different specialties: Introducing specialty impact factor. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2013;79:737-738
Copyright: (C)2013 Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology

Given the fact that there are a large number of journals published in all major fields of science, it is considered important to have some system to assess their quality. Impact factor, created by Eugene Garfield and Irving H. Sher in early 1960s, has become a popular indicator of the quality of a journal. [1] Impact factors of the journals for the preceding year are released by Thomson Reuters annually in June in Journal Citation Reports. Impact factor of a journal for the year 2012 is calculated as follows: [2]

  • A = Number of times the citable items published in a particular journal in the years 2010 and 2011 were cited by articles in indexed journals in 2012.
  • B = Total number of citable items published in that journal in the years 2010 and 2011.
  • 2012 impact factor of the journal = A/B.
Citable items are usually articles, reviews, proceedings or notes; not editorials or letters to the editor. [2]

Use of Impact Factor to Compare Contributions and Journals in Different Specialties

Despite some of its limitations [1] and development of some other indices, impact factor is probably the most frequently used index to assess the quality of a journal. As a consequence, if an author publishes an article in a journal, which has a high impact factor, the contribution is viewed more favorably. Articles published in high impact factor journals generally receive more positive attention or more points when someone seeks an academic benefit.

The concept of devising scoring system for evaluating publications of the individuals makes assessment of their contributions more objective and is certainly a well-intentioned and praise-worthy major step. The system is excellent when a particular specialty is considered because all individuals will be from the same field. However, there arises a peculiar situation when the same criteria are applied for individuals working in different specialties. To explain this, let us imagine a hypothetical specialty in which the highest impact factor journal has an impact factor of 50; and another hypothetical specialty in which the journal with the highest impact factor has an impact factor of only five. This can happen because the number of persons doing research in a particular field may considerably vary compared with those working in another field. With more persons publishing in a specialty, the chances of citations of an article in that field are more and thus the impact factors of the journals of that specialty will be higher. This puts persons working in "smaller" specialties (i.e., where comparatively fewer researchers are working and consequently the journals get lower impact factors) at disadvantage. An individual working in such a field will get lower scores, not because the person′s work is lacking in quality, but because there are less number of individuals working in that particular specialty to cite the work. Said another way, the contributions of a person working in a "smaller" (as explained above) specialty will have to be more to get the same scores compared with another in a field with higher impact factor journals. One solution to this problem may be is to have different scoring criteria for different specialties, a solution that appears to be very complicated and thus probably impractical.

Another strange situation arises from the fact that human minds learn to make comparative and evaluative relations from an early age as recent research shows. [3] As this relational responding is arbitrarily applicable, [3] we may sometimes make comparisons when doing so and this may not be correct or beneficial. The impact factor should be used to compare different journals within a certain field. [2] However, sometimes one may be inclined to compare impact factors of different specialties and conclude that one journal of a particular field, which has a higher impact factor, is superior to a different specialty′s journal with a lower impact factor.

Toward More Meaningful Comparisons: Specialty Impact Factor (S-Impact Factor)

For the particular purpose of comparing contributions and journals across different specialties and thus resolving the aforementioned situations, impact factor may be modified by devising the concept of S-impact factor. S-impact factor is to be calculated as follows:

  • A = Impact factor of a journal
  • B = Highest impact factor in the same specialty
  • S-impact factor = A/B.
Although developing a perfect system to quantify the academic contributions of an individual may be the unattainable Holy Grail, S-impact factor may be a small step in the right direction. S-impact factor is based on an assumption that best journals of all specialties have equal value and this appears to be a reasonable assumption. Calculated in the above-mentioned way, the journals of all specialties, which have the highest impact factors, will have the S-impact factors as one; while other journals will have S-impact factors which will be lesser than one. With S-impact factor, same minimum essential scores may be made applicable to different specialties for the purpose of academic benefits. Furthermore, if one wishes to do so, this index may be used as a more meaningful way to make comparisons of quality of journals belonging to different specialties.

General medical journals, like the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), which usually have a higher impact factor compared with specialty journals, also rarely publish specialty articles. This is a tricky situation for S-impact factor to handle. However, this is a rare event; out of the 14,610 articles published in NEJM in the past 10 years (source: PubMed), only 470 (i.e., 0.03%) belonged to dermatology. [4] To address this rare event, S-impact factor of the journal in which the article has been published may be considered.

[Table - 1] shows 2012 impact factors [5] and S-impact factors of top 10 dermatology journals and the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology.

Table 1: 2012 impact factors and S-impact factors of top 10 dermatology journals and Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology
Malathi M, Thappa DM. The intricacies of impact factor and mid-term review of editorship. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2012;78:1-4.
[Google Scholar]
2 Anonymous. Impact factor. Available from: http://www.en. [Last accessed on 2013 Sep 1].
[Google Scholar]
Hayes SC, Smith S. Why language leads to suffering. In: Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life. 1 st ed. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications; 2005. p. 17-32.
[Google Scholar]
The New England Journal of Medicine, Specialty Dermatology. Available from: [Last accessed on 2013 Sep 1].
[Google Scholar]
Anonymous. Medical journals impact factors. Available from: [Last accessed on 2013 Sep 1].
[Google Scholar]

Fulltext Views

PDF downloads
Show Sections