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  Table of Contents  
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 31  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 331-333

Trends in biomedical communication

Division of Publication and Information (NCJ), Indian Council of Medical Research, Department of Health Research (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare), New Delhi, India

Date of Submission11-Sep-2013
Date of Acceptance16-Sep-2013
Date of Web Publication25-Sep-2013

Correspondence Address:
N C Jain
Division of Publication and Information (NCJ), Indian Council of Medical Research, Department of Health Research (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare), New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0255-0857.118865

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How to cite this article:
Jain N C. Trends in biomedical communication. Indian J Med Microbiol 2013;31:331-3

How to cite this URL:
Jain N C. Trends in biomedical communication. Indian J Med Microbiol [serial online] 2013 [cited 2020 Nov 26];31:331-3. Available from:

It is now increasingly being realised that communicating the outcome of research as rapidly as possible to the global scientific community is as important as doing research itself. In order to disseminate the research findings, biomedical scientists commonly use three main types of communication, namely oral or podium, written and poster communication. Traditionally, publication in a learned journal is considered the most appropriate and acceptable means of informing the peer community of the new information generated. Research paper publication is thus an intrinsic and inevitable facet of doing science via a variety of ways namely Editorial/Perspective/Viewpoint/Commentary/Review Article/Meta-analysis/Systematic Review/Original Article/Correspondence, Clinical Images, etc., Besides establishing the claim of the investigators, quick publication ensures other researchers to know of and utilise the results of these investigations. Specifically, a scholarly biomedical journal renders five main services to an interested researcher: (i) provide a place to register work; (ii) legitimise research through the overallquality of its editorial process, especially peer review; (iii) act as an archive; (iv) distribute research to its readers either directly or through libraries and (v) serve communities (practicing physicians). Of late, because of the importance given to the first author of a research publication in various evaluation and comparison purposes like recruitment and advancement, award of grants, award or prize, etc., many biomedical journals now permit first two authors as 'first author' by declaring in the paper'first two authors contributed equally'. Same holds true in case of a conventional single corresponding author, that is now even two corresponding authors are allowed. However, in clinical images, biomedical journals generally restrict a maximum of two authors. This trend of contributed equally is picking up fast in biomedical journals.

Issues like 'National', that is 'Indian' versus 'International', that is 'Foreign' journals [1] should ideally be 'Indexed' versus 'Non-indexed' journals as many factors are taken into account when evaluating journals for coverage in various databases. Say for example, in Thomson Reuters' Web of Science, the journal's basic publishing standards, its editorial content, the international diversity of its authorship, and the citation data associated with it are all considered, among others for inclusion of a journal. [2] Same stringent criteria is applied for selection of MEDLINE journals. [3] With this backdrop, therefore equally important is the need to publish in journals that are widely indexed internationally and read by a majority of scientists. Even while new journals are being started regularly, they are just not able to cope with the new information generated by the ever increasing scientific community. Publication in such widely indexed journals with international outreach continues to be extremely competitive and difficult. To get valuable recognition, a researcher invariably tries to publish in journals noticed and used by others around the world, if possible in social/science citation indexed journals with Impact Factor (IF). Given prominence by Eugene Garfield and the Institute of Scientific Information he founded in 1961 in the USA, in determining the quality of a journal. IF simply reflects the ability of journals and editors to attract the best paper (?) Specifically, the IF for a particular journal is calculated by dividing the total number of citations received by the articles published in the journal during the two previous years, by the number of articles published in the journal the same period.


IF (JY) = Impact factor of the journal J for the year Y
X1 = Number of citations received by Y1 source items in Y year
X2 = Number of citations received by Y2 source items in Y year
Y1 = Number of source items published in journal J in (Y-1) year
Y2 = Number of source items published in journal J in (Y-2) year

Thus, the IF is the average number of citations received per year by the articles published in the journal during the previous 2 years, and is therefore an estimate of the number of citations an average article published in that journal the present year will receive. IFs are calculated and published yearly. The latest, that is 2012 IF, are available in the 2013 release of Journal Citation Reports (JCR) published by the Thomson Reuters.

The latest 2013 JCR, science edition has 8411 journals [4] with their 2012 IF including 99 journals from India. Top 20 Indian journals in terms of 2012 IF have 16 journals with IF > 1.00 as also top 20 Indian journals also figure Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology [Table 1]. [Table 2] lists 20 top journals IF-wise. As IF is based on number of citations received, therefore the open access (OA) movement continues to play an important role in enhancing the visibility of journals, especially Indian in terms of escalating IF by merely making the contents of journals freely available. [5] To put it simple, the emergence of digitisation and Internet has increased the possibility of making information available to anyone, anywhere, anytime and in any format. The major benefits of OA include: Researchers and students gain increased access to knowledge; publications receive greater visibility and readership, and the potential impact of research is heightened; and increased access to, and sharing of knowledge leads to opportunities for equitable economic and social development, intercultural dialogue and has the potential to spark innovation. OA improves the speed, efficiency and efficacy of research as also OA enables computation upon the research literature. [6]
Table 1: Top 20 Indian journals in terms of 2012 IF

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Table 2: Top 20 journals in terms of 2012 IF

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IF alone is not sufficient

Acta Crystallographica Section A: Foundations of Crystallography (pISSN 0108-7673), exhibited perhaps the first ever mutation in the IF of a journal. [7] Specifically, its IF was 2.051 in 2008, mutated to 49.926 in 2009 and then increased to 54.333 in 2010, and its current 2012 IF is 2.244. [4] The main reason attributed to this high IF was a single review article receiving a large number of citations. Therefore, one must look at the citation of an individual paper while undertaking any evaluation exercise, as IF alone may not provide the true picture.

h-index is gaining acceptance

How does one quantify the cumulative impact and relevance of an individual's scientific research output? Such quantification is often needed for evaluation and comparison purposes, for example recruitment and advancement, award of grants, etc. The publication record of an individual and the citation record are clearly data that contain useful information. That information includes the number (Np) of papers published over n years, the number of citations (Njc) for each paper (j), the journals where the papers were published and their impact parameter, etc., This is a large amount of information that will be evaluated with different criteria by different people. In 2005, Hirsch [8] proposed a single number, the 'h-index', as a particularly simple and useful way to characterise the scientific output of a researcher. A scientist has index h if h of his/her Np papers have at least h citations each, and the other (Np − h) papers have no more than h citations each.

To put it simply, h-index aims to quantify an individual researcher's scientific research output based on the distribution of citations received by a given researcher's publications. h-index reflects both the number of publications and the number of citations per publication. However, h-index does not account for the distribution. Consider two cases: Scientist A publishes 20 papers each cited 20 times. Another scientist B publishes 40 papers, with 20 papers cited 20 times each and the rest of the 19 papers cited 19 times each. Now, both the scientists (A and B) will have an identical h-index of 20 but clearly scientist B is better in terms of number of papers. To take care of the h-index's deficiency, Gangan Prathap has introduced p-index or the mock h-index, which represents a combination of size and quality. [9]

All said and done, the overall objective should be to publish research findings in indexed journals with global outreach.

 ~ Disclaimer Top

The author's views expressed in this Guest Editorial do not necessarily reflect the views of the ICMR, New Delhi.

 ~ References Top

1.Lakhotia SC. ′National′ versus ′International′ journals. Curr Sci 2013;105:287-8.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.The Thomson Reuters journal selection process. Available from: [Last accessed on 2013 Sep 10].  Back to cited text no. 2
3.FAQ: Journal selection for MEDLINE indexing at NLM. Available from: [Last accessed on 2013 Sep 10].  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Journal Citation Reports 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, Science edition (web-based), Philadelphia :Thomson Reuters; 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Gunasekaran S, Arunachalam S. Impact factors of Indian open access journals rising. Curr Sci 2012;103:757-60.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Swan A. Policy guidelines for the development and promotion of open access. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; 2012.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Jain NC. Mutation in impact factor. Curr Sci 2012;103:1266.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Hirsch JE. Available from: arXiv: physics/0508025v5[physics.soc-ph] [Last accessed on 2005 Sep 29].  Back to cited text no. 8
9.p-index. Available from: [Last accessed on 2013 Sep 10].  Back to cited text no. 9


  [Table 1], [Table 2]

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1 Rejection of a manuscript
Kapil, A.
Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology. 2013; 31(4): 329-330


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