Tag Archives: journals

How to think about impact factors: A journalist’s perspective

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

This is the second of two blog posts providing different perspectives on the value of considering a journal’s impact factor when considering whether to report on a study published in it. Today I feature an interview with AHCJ Vice President Ivan Oransky, M.D., who is co-founder of Retraction Watch and founder of Embargo Watch. He also is vice president and global editorial director at MedPage Today.

Oransky brings a journalist’s perspective to the importance of journal impact factors in evaluating the value of a study. My earlier post featured an interview with Hilda Bastian, Ph.D. who has background in research. Continue reading

How to think about impact factors: A researcher’s perspective

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Back in February, my tip sheet on the AHCJ site about evaluating the quality of a study mentioned that a journal’s impact factor may be considered in assessing whether to report on a study. While mentioned as one factor among many — and never a definitive one — it inspired a fair amount of debate on Twitter about the value, or lack thereof, of impact factors, especially given the rise of new open-access journals that haven’t been around long enough to have a high impact factor.

To add to the discussion, I reached out to two individuals with different perspectives— largely related to their differences in goals, values and needs in the spheres of research and journalism. Today’s post features a Q&A with Hilda Bastian, Ph.D., scientist, blogger at Absolutely Maybe on the Public Library of Science (PLOS) site and cartoonist at the wonderful and educational Statistically Funny site. Bastian also is a chief editor at PubMed Health and PubMed Commons, but her words here represent only her own views and not the views of any organization, including the National Institutes of Health. Bastian comes from a background of scientific research. Continue reading

Assessing a journal’s quality can help assess a study’s newsworthiness

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: usabiomedlib via Flickr

Photo: usabiomedlib via Flickr

Perhaps you stumble onto an intriguing study that you haven’t seen covered and want to report on it. Or you receive a press release touting provocative findings that sound pretty astonishing … if they’re true. One potential indication of the paper’s significance and quality is the journal in which it was published.

Publication in a highly regarded journal is not a guarantee in itself that the paper is good – the blog Retraction Watch has hundreds of examples of that. In fact, one of the most famously retracted studies of all time – that of Andrew Wakefield’s attempt to link autism and vaccines in a small cases series – was published in The Lancet, one of the top medical journals in the U.K. (Ironically, that study continues to contribute to The Lancet’s impact factor because it’s the second-most-cited retracted paper as ranked by Retraction Watch.) Continue reading

Are we nearing the end of traditional medical journal articles?

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: National Eye Institute via Flickr

Photo: National Eye Institute via Flickr

Lots of challenges have faced medical publishing as the Internet has evolved. From predatory journals to the rise of open access journals to the simple fact that the stacks and stacks of physical paper journals are depleting, removing a long-time key funding source.

In one recent article – ironically enough in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes – Harlan M. Krumholz, M.D., describes nine “deficiencies in the current model that fuel the sense that journals as we have known them are approaching their final act.” Continue reading

Scientific journals squabble over conflict-of-interest policies

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

doctor-with-megaphone-and-dollar-signA game of inside baseball is being played between two of the most venerated medical journals, and journalists may want to be sure they have a seat near the dugout. The game centers on one of the most important aspects of reporting on medical studies: identifying and making sense of researchers’ potential financial conflicts of interest.

In nearly every medical study, usually somewhere near the end or on the bottom of the first page, the authors declare any conflicts of interest or disclosures they may have that relate to the topic of the study. For editorials and commentaries, authors include the same, though many high-impact journals do not publish review articles and similar viewpoint-based papers by authors who have real or perceived conflicts of interest. Continue reading