Archive for the ‘Scientific Journal Articles’ Category

This tutorial will discuss how to read a scientific article, how to find the main points of the article, and how to take effective notes.

An online tutorial that introduces scientific journal literature to university students
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When publishing papers it is important to choose which journal to submit a paper to. One factor that is often considered is the impact factor of a journal, the higher it is, on the whole, the more widespread the journal. The Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) is consider the authoritative body that calculates this information. Impact Factors Citations to papers are measured according to the number of times an individual paper is cited in the source literature. A similar type of procedure can be employed to measure the Impact Factor (IF) of a journal which is regarded as an indicator of its quality. However instead of looking at total number of citations, it looks at the average number of citations for all papers published in a scientific journal over a defined period. There are actually several such measures but the most common one is a two year one. This looks at how many times papers published over a two year period have been cited in the current year. An example is as follows: Consider a journal that has published 80 papers in 2007 and 100 in 2008. Papers from 2007 are cited 260 times in all ISI source journals in 2009 and papers from 2008 are cited 100 times. This means that of the 180 papers published in 2007 and 2008 there are a total of 360 citations in 2009. Hence the 2009 IF of the journal is 360 / 180 = 2.0. Each journal’s annual IF is calculated by the ISI in the summer of the next year. Hence the 2009 results were announced in June 2010. Their database contains information for several years previously, so it is possible to see whether a journal’s influence is increasing or decreasing over time. Weakness of Journal Impact Factors The two year IF has a weakness in that papers need to be cited pretty fast after publication. For example if a paper is published in November 2007, authors of future papers have to have noticed this paper, incorporated as citations into their own papers, submitted these and then got them accepted via what is often a lengthy editorial process, and then finally even after acceptance there can be a delay until the page numbers are assigned which for some journals can run into several months by December 2009. This means that in areas where editorial decisions are slow, such as in mathematics or engineering , IFs are typically quite low, even for high quality papers. In addition in some areas there is a tradition of citing many references and publishing faster. Therefore it is not necessarily sensible to compare these from different disciplines. For example an ecology impact factor may be higher on average than a mathematics impact factor, reflecting the fact that on the whole an average journal in the area of ecology has a higher IF to one in mathematics. An alternative to the two year index has recently been developed that is based on very similar principles but looks, instead, at citations for papers published over the last five years. This allows slower evolving journals and disciplines to get a fairer assessment. This is not commonly used as yet, but can be found alongside the standard two year IF on the ISI website. Grant Applications In some countries and for many funding bodies when submitting grant applications, applicants’ publications are often listed, and it is sometimes expected additionally to state the Impact Factor of the journals that the applicant has published in. Furthermore, some even ask applicants to state how many times his or her paper has been cited and how it compares with the overall journal Impact Factor. A paper that has been cited 20 times in the last year, in a journal with an IF of 8, may be considered above the standard for that journal.

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