Study considers role of impact factor, income in journal editors’ decisions

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

A newly published study looks at medical journals and whether the publication of industry-supported trials might cause a conflict of interest by improving the journals’ importance or income.

Researchers looked at “impact factor” – a measure of a journal’s importance based on how often its articles are cited – and they looked at income from the sale of reprints to drug companies.

While they found that the publication of industry-supported randomized controlled trials is associated with an increase in both the impact factor and income from reprints, they do not conclude that editors’ decisions are affected by those increases.

Importantly, these findings do not imply that the decisions of editors are affected by the possibility that the publication of an industry-supported trial might improve their journal’s impact factor or income.

Despite that conclusion, the researchers do suggest that journals routinely disclose information on the source and amount of income they receive.

In that spirit, PLoS Medicine discloses its sources of income for 2009 and the editors discuss the issue in an editorial.


More about conflicts of interest in publishing

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