Correlation between impact factor and rejection rate: Myth or fact?

impact-factor

Impact factor (IF) is a measure of the reputation and health of a journal, but not the sole determinant. Therefore, authors must not consider it as a be-all, end-all yardstick or stricture while finding the right journal for their paper. The scope of a journal, its audience, and types of articles it publishes are equally, if not more, significant than the IF.

Grading the authors based on the merit of their publication portfolios is an arduous and tricky task. Several institutional committees often rank the authors based on their previous achievements for promotions, funding, and honors. In many academic circles, the IF of a journal is adopted as a parameter for assessing the quality of a published article, thereby sidestepping a comprehensive review of the article.

In scholarly publishing, a general perception among authors is that journals ranked with a high IF are highly selective and follow strict criteria for paper selection. It is also conjectured that these journals accept only those manuscripts that have extremely significant and novel outcomes, and hence more likely to attract many citations.

However, several past studies have established that there is no correlation between rejection rate and IF. These studies have cited instances of journals that have low IF and high rejection rates, which prove that IF is a poor predictor of the rejection rate and merit of a journal.

Frontiers, a leading open access publisher, plotted the IFs of 570 journals against their rejection rates and found absolutely no prime correlation between the two elements. Several studies have an alternative explanation for journals that have a high IF and a high 90-95% rejection rate. According to these studies, the high rejection rate is because the journals give precedence to prominent authors and select works that are likely to attract broad acceptance from the target audience. Consequently, many papers are rejected by them when submitted at the first go.

The way the IF is mishandled or misapplied by authors/selection committees constitutes a blemished metric in several ways. Therefore, it is important to avoid the long misconstrued notion that authors with many publications in journals that have high IFs and high rejection rates are more meritorious and bigger achievers than others who have publications in journals with medium or low IF.

Open Access Journals: The new era of publishing

benefits of open access journal
As the name suggests, the main benefit of an open access journal is that it is free for viewing by all. It can be viewed without making any payments and even downloaded for free. This is highly advantageous for libraries and researchers, who would otherwise have to access each journal through a paid subscription. With subscription rates usually very high, it became very difficult for budding researchers to subscribe to all relevant journals. Besides, researchers often have limited finance to access many journals. Conversely, with open access journals, researchers can access several journals, while libraries can add a large number of journals to their collections and thus benefit the research community as a whole.

Open access journals have high citation because they are freely accessible and referred by many people. For writers, too, open access journals give their papers much greater exposure than subscription based journals. It is also observed that there is a sustained number of downloads over a longer period, while non-open access articles have a shorter attention span. There is no need to pay subscription charge or pay-per-view charges to reach the full material. Open access journals are more likely to be indexed in databases and enlisted in search engines.

Some journals ask the author to pay for making their paper free to viewed, but this amount is nominal. After the manuscript has been accepted, the author also needs to pay a onetime charge for processing and handling. This sum is far smaller than the amount paid for publication in non-open access journals, both printed and online.

The best part of an open access journal is that it gives wider scope of access to researchers in developing countries. Since publication of papers is free in many journals, researchers from developing countries have a better chance to publish their papers and present the results of their study to a global readership.

In contrast to traditional journals, open access journals have a short production cycle, which enables quick publication of accepted papers. Some open access journals also offer fee waivers or discounts for authors from developing countries.

Sometimes, due to negligence or oversight, editors of traditional journals omit few good papers, but the chance of a similar occurrence in an open access journal is much less because the journal’s teams of editors carry out a rapid peer review so that the paper is published without delay.

There are advantages and disadvantages of open access journals, but the advantages surely outweigh the disadvantages. With the arrival of open access journals, accessibility to research papers has increased manifold. Besides, a wider audience prompts higher number of citations. Open access publications have thus come as a boon for researchers and libraries in developing countries.

Take a step closer to publication by formatting your manuscript

puzzled with how to for your manuscript?

A properly formatted manuscript is likely to be preferred by a journal editor compared to an unorganized alternate version. Hence, instead of submitting a manuscript with your data and text in a disorderly stack, it is crucial to format your manuscript according to the guidelines of the targeted journal before submission.

You should ensure that your manuscript is properly formatted to reduce the publication time. On the other hand, an unorganized manuscript is often returned by the journal house weeks after submission with instructions to adhere to the formatting guidelines. That entails lost time in the publication process.

The following are some basic rules of formatting:

  • Page size: Use 8½ x 11-inch size of normal sheet.
  • Page margin: Keep all margins within 1 to 1½ inch. Avoid using end-of-the-line hyphenation or justified margins.
  • Spacing: Use single or double spacing uniformly for the entire manuscript.
  • Font: Use 12-point font size of Times New Roman or Arial. Try to avoid fancy fonts.
  • Page numbering: Number each page of the manuscript according to the guidelines given by the target journal.
  • Manuscript sections: Divide your manuscript into clear sections such as title page, main text, references, appendices, footnotes, acknowledgements, tables, figures, and figure legends.

format your manuscript by your own

In addition, take care of the following extra minutes:

  • On the title page, provide your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address of the corresponding author. It is a good practice to mention the word count of the abstract and main text, and the number of figures and tables.
  • Check whether the journal guidelines call for a blinded manuscript for the peer review process. If yes, ensure that your manuscript is prepared in a way that does not give away the authors’ identity.
  • Maintain a sequential pattern of headings and sub-headings. Mixed-up sections can confuse editors and peer reviewers.
  • Follow the house style of the journal for both in-text and end-text references.
  • Journals often ask for signed copyright transfer agreements, conflict-of-interest forms, patient consent forms, funding information, and ethical approval related data. Cross-check the forms before submission. Non-complying manuscripts can be returned for corrections months after the submission, which results in unnecessary delay in publication.

Manuscript formatting is quick and easy. If you conform to the aforementioned details, you can prepare an attractively formatted manuscript that is likely to be welcomed by the journal editors. If you face any obstacles in the formatting process, seek the services of professional manuscript editors who can tailor the format of your manuscript to fit perfectly with the target journal’s guidelines.

Journal Impact Factor: All That Matters

The impact factor, often abbreviated as IF, is a measure reflecting the average number of citations that a paper published in a journal receives over a defined period of time. Conceptually developed in the 1960s by Eugene Garfield, founder of the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), IF is now frequently used as a proxy for the relative importance of a journal within its field. Journal impact factors are published annually in Science Citation Index (SCI) Reports.

Researchers are often conditioned to believe that IF matters the most. Publication in journals with a high IF is regarded as an indication of the quality of the research published, and by implication, the quality of its authors. Therefore, it is not surprising that publishing in high IF journals is an aspiration for most scientists as it often plays an important role in their career prospects and progression.

High IF journals are widely read. But there has been a discrepancy regarding the importance of journal IF among researchers. Journal ranking systems have evolved in the present-day world and allow for better comparisons. Sadly, they are often ignored even when such rankings may benefit a given journal. But even these systems are not foolproof and can be quite flawed, especially those assuming that the scientific value or quality is less if the scope of a discussion is small. A more appropriate approach could be to say that the best journals are those that can rank high in one or more categories or ranking systems, rather than reducing the overall journal quality and usefulness to a single number.

IF, originally designed for purposes other than the individual evaluation of the quality of research, is undoubtedly a useful tool provided its interpretation is not stretched far beyond its limits of validity. Having said that, the research quality cannot be measured solely using IF. It should be used with caution, and should not be the dominant or only factor accounting for the credibility of a research.

Why journal articles face rejection?

When a manuscript is submitted to a journal, it undergoes a thorough quality check under the peer review process before being sent to the chief editor. Most articles face rejection during this process. There are several reasons for this.

1. The article is beyond the scope of the journal

Your article can be immediately rejected if it is not appropriate for the journal’s readership and does not meet the journal’s aims and scope. Besides, it is also likely to be rejected by the editorial board if it does not match the specified journal format. For example, if a review article is submitted to a journal that does not have the scope for publication of such articles, the editorial board is likely to reject the paper summarily.

2. The paper lacks key elements

The paper is unlikely to be approved if it is incomplete and lacks any important information, such as author’s affiliations, e-mail address, keywords, figures and tables, in-text citation of figures and tables, references, a proper structure, etc.

Lack of novelty and originality in the paper or suspicion of plagiarized information can also lead to an almost instantaneous rejection. Incomprehensible articles that show poor language skills of the author are also not acceptable.

3. The paper failed the technical screening process

If you have submitted your paper to more than one journal simultaneously, a particular journal might consider it unethical. Consequently, the paper is likely to fail the technical screening process. Even papers that do not meet the technical standards of the preferred journals are also rejected in the screening process. For example, a paper might be rejected for non-compliance with certain points in the submission checklist.

4. The paper is conceptually weak

While conceptualizing the paper, the author might fail to resolve certain fundamental problems that could result in unoriginal or impractical results. These problems include flaws in the study design, incomplete data analysis, use of an inappropriate method for statistical analysis or a poorly formulated research question. These basic defects might lead to rejection of the paper.

5. The paper is not well prepared for the journal

A paper is liable to be rejected if it is not formatted according to the journal guidelines. Disregarding such guidelines might result in excessive use of jargons, deviation from the focus of the journal, improper formatting of figures and tables, poor organization of contents, inadequate description of the methodology, poor writing standards, complex and convoluted sentences, and frequent grammatical errors. These factors will have a negative impact on the reviewers and will probably contribute to a rejection.

6. The journal is overloaded with submissions

Sometimes, a journal receives a flood of submissions within a short period. This restricts the available space to include papers in several forthcoming issues. Consequently, rejection is inevitable for many submissions, including some high-quality manuscripts. Conversely, a journal might receive several papers on the same or related topic. In such a situation, the journal will be forced to cherry pick and might return some well-conceptualized papers in the process.

7. Journals have their decision-making policy

Rejection of the paper also depends on a journal’s decision-making policy, which varies from journal to journal. Some journals forward the paper for a second screening if they are unsure about the quality of the manuscript. On the other hand, editors of certain journals aim to publish papers that are related to current research topics and their acceptance rate is directly proportional to the number of articles received in this genre.

As evident, there is a gamut of reasons for the rejection of a paper and the author needs to take cognizance of these facts for a better understanding of the rejection process. The author needs to keep in mind that the quality of a paper is not the sole reason for rejection; several other reasons can also contribute to the rejection of a submitted paper.

Impact Factor: Criterion to evaluate a journal’s quality

Researchers, writers and authors start scratching their heads when it comes to select a journal to get their articles or manuscripts published. The present article will surely help you in this regard and turn out to be a guide before selecting a journal.

Selecting an appropriate journal and publication type is a challenging job. Getting it right increases the chances of having a successful publication of your article. Eugene Garfield, the founder of Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), proposed a tool to evaluate the journals’ impact within a particular discipline both quantitatively and qualitatively in the year 1955. Finally, Journal Impact Factor (JIF) was indexed in 1975 for analyzing the journal’s quality.

The journal impact factor refers to the average number of citations of the previously published articles in a journal; it may be books, case studies, reports, thesis or web documents, etc. Practically, higher the impact factor of a journal, higher is its influence. The value of the impact factor of a journal is regulated by two elements. Firstly, the sociological aspect comprising of journal’s subject area and the type of journal and article. The journal impact factor keeps deviating in accordance with the quantity of citations in different journals and the type of articles in them. Secondly, element constitutes of size of the journal, i.e., the quantity of articles published in the journal within a span of time. Usually, citations between two and five years are two benchmarks used to judge the size of the journal.

At times, the authors or researchers consider journals with the least acceptance rate. They have very strict procedures to select the best article before publication and, eventually, such journals show to have the highest impact factor.

Journal impact factor is a very useful aid for evaluation of journals; nevertheless, impact factor is said to have some demerits too. Factors like peer review process, editorial board members and the article rejection rates are some of the considerable features along with the impact factor to help you out during the journal selections.

Whatever may be its influence, bad or good, impact factor is going to prevail for a long duration as other options are no better in its comparison.

We hope this article will surely help you in judging the journals before you select one for publishing your article.

Submitting Articles for Online Publication

Writing for online magazines is somewhat similar to print journalism, particularly the inverted pyramid format. Also, as in print publishing, it is essential that you should be an avid reader of your magazine before becoming one of its writers. Going through recent articles of the magazine can provide you invaluable tips regarding the expectations of the editors and readers. Another way to analyze the readers of a magazine is through its advertisers. Many online magazines contain ads at the top or the sides of their page. The types of ads that are displayed there throw light on the demographics and psychographics of the target audience.

Browsing various sites will eventually make you familiar with the electronic magazines that might be a good choice for your article. In many sites, there is a link ‘About Us’, which gives information about the editorial angle, audience, and article submission requirements. In order to be on safer grounds, it is always beneficial to email the editor to present your idea and to determine the fee (if applicable), deadlines, and other relevant issues.

With regard to style, online articles are written in a more casual style than print publications. Online articles tend to be a mix of different genres and styles and allow more experimentation in word choice compared to print publications. Also, they should contain shorter sentences and paragraphs because of the restrictions of the screen-based interface. To sum it up, electronic articles have an economy of style in addition to attention-grabbing punches, which is not often expected for print publications.

SUBMITTING AN ARTICLE FOR PUBLICATION

SUBMITTING AN ARTICLE FOR PUBLICATION

 

While deciding to submit an article to a magazine for publication, make sure you are familiar with the topics and styles of your chosen magazine. You have a higher chance of having your article accepted if it fits with the ‘culture’ of the magazine. All magazines have details of the editor, so if you cannot find submission guidelines, contact the editor to request them. This is the editor’s job and, besides, most magazines are looking for fresh ideas and new writers. In most cases, you will be required to submit a proposal summarizing your article, and noting its significance and the types of readers it is likely to interest.

In order to familiarize yourself with the stylistic conventions of your chosen magazine, follow these steps:

1. Read carefully each article in recent issues of the magazine. Note the basic question or issue that they deal with and trace the ways that they answer it.

2. Notice the tone of the articles. Is it humorous? Serious? Technical? Chatty? This will give you a hint on what tone to give your own article.

3. Notice the use of research. Have the writers conducted primary research, such as interviewing people, or are most articles based on secondary research, the consultation of written sources? How many quotations do the articles use? How much information is paraphrased, i.e., written in the writer’s own words?

4. Notice the use of pronouns (‘I’, ‘you’, ‘we’, etc.). Are articles written mostly in an impersonal, objective style or do they rely heavily on personal comment? How does the writer refer to him/herself? Does s/he use personal pronouns?

5. Notice the leads and ties. How long and snappy are they? Do the articles rely strongly on leads to ‘bait’ the reader, or are other elements, such as pictures or quotations of famous speakers, more prominent?

6. Underline the first sentence in each paragraph. They should form a step-by-step sequence. Then note the cohesion that the writers have used: the linking words and phrases within paragraphs and the transitions from one paragraph to the next. Often the same words or ideas will be repeated in the last sentence of one paragraph and the first sentence of the next.

7.  Notice how the articles develop their theme. Is the article structured chronologically, developmentally, by alternating examples, point by point? How did the writer build the organizational structure to answer the title’s question?

8.  What techniques does the writer use to make the article both informative and appealing? E.g., does s/he use analogies, anecdotal examples, metaphors, personal stories, rhetorical questions, direct questions to the readers, etc.?

9.  Notice the title. It may have been changed by the editor; nevertheless, how does it reflect the article? Does it tease, quote, state facts? What technique does the writer use to make the reader want to read the article?

10.  Look at para-textual elements, such as visuals, pullquotes, subheads, etc. Although the editor may have produced these, you can still get an idea of the type of ‘framing’ that the magazine requires, and this will give you some tips on what types of information the editors consider important.

Audience levels

In addition to analyzing your main or primary audience, you should also consider if you have immediate and secondary audiences. In many cases, the person who will first read the document is not the primary audience. It could be a manager or editor, an intermediary between the writer and the primary audience – this is the immediate audience. The immediate reader often acts as a form of filter or quality control agent of the information before it reaches the primary reader. Additionally, you could have a secondary audience of readers who are likely to read the document even if they are not the target group. Consider an example. If you submit an article for publication to a specialist magazine, you are writing for a public that is interested in the topic of your article; they are your primary audience. However, before the article reaches this audience, it will be read by the magazine’s editor, who will make the final decision about whether to publish the article or not. The editor is, then, the immediate audience (and maybe the only audience, if he/she rejects the article). If published, the article may also be read by readers who are not primarily interested in the topic: they could be journalism students, for example, studying the article as an example of writing. They would be the secondary audience.

Let Your Writing Be Reader-centric

For creating reader centric, influential writing always have the following rules uppermost in your mind:

  • When you write to technical journals and magazines, assume minimum technical knowledge on the part of the readers and accordingly use technical words and jargon;
  • When you write to teach through such publications, use technical words and jargon but always remember to add suitable foot-notes;
  • If you are writing general articles or doing some feature writing meant for a heterogeneous readership, avoid exhibitionist tendencies and make your writing as interesting as possible. While on this, assume only an average educational standard on the part of majority of the readers and be discreet in the choice of your words and expressions. Do appreciate that when it comes to reading, unlike an intellectual, an average reader lacks flexibility to alternate between a high and mediocre standard of writing;
  • Never indulge in Latin words or in outdated words and expressions or for that matter in uncommon idioms. More importantly, if you are not a native speaker of English, do not try to translate idioms or expressions in vogue into English. Remember that every language has its own style and so whatever the language you are writing in, first imbibe the true spirit of the particular language and
  • Finally, never forget that reading as distinguished from listening is more tedious and hence go all out to help the readers sustain their interest in your writing with attractive paragraph headings wherever you can.