Re: Journal Length Constraints

From: Dana Roth <dzrlib_at_LIBRARY.CALTECH.EDU>
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2007 10:44:00 -0800

In the spirit of 'never attribute to malice what can be explained by
ignorance' ...

It needs to be pointed out that 'letters to the editor' are different
from 'research letters'.

For example, publications in Physical Review Letters are designated as
'articles' by ISI. For example,

Zhu SL (Zhu, Shi-Liang), Fu H (Fu, Hao), Wu CJ (Wu, C-J.), Zhang SC
(Zhang, S-C.), Duan LM (Duan, L-M.)
PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS 97 (24): Art. No. 240401 DEC 15 2006
**Document Type: Article

Tim's comments regarding the ISI IF also refer to 'letters to the
editor' and not 'research' letters.

Dana Roth

-----Original Message-----
From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
Behalf Of Tim Brody
Sent: Tuesday, January 23, 2007 8:11 AM
Subject: Re: Journal Length Constraints

Stevan Harnad wrote:
> [Identity Deleted] wrote:
>> the editor of the journal then asked us to re-submit our paper as a
>> letter to the editor. the journal's policy was that reports were
>> 1000-1200 words, and letters were under 500 words. as such, we had to

>> do a complete re-write, despite the fact that our paper had been
>> deemed satisfactory (with minor revision) by the referee.
>> letters do not count against an ISI Impact Factor...
> Thank you for your message and you may be right that relegating some
> accepted articles to letter status not only cuts their length but may
> also cut their usage and citations, which indirectly affects the
journal's impact factor.

I believe the anonymous correspondent is referring to the way that the
ISI IF is calculated:

ISI IF = cites to journal / total articles

Hence cites to letters get counted in the numerator but are not averaged
by the denominator, which could be used by an unscrupulous editor to
boost their JIF.

i.e. the point is not that a shortened text may get fewer citations, but
that a particular calculation creates the perverse incentive to publish
a greater proportion of (still citable) 'letters' as the contents of a

Received on Tue Jan 23 2007 - 21:11:49 GMT

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