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Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2011 Jul;145(1):15-7. doi: 10.1177/0194599811406648. Epub 2011 Apr 26.

Can otolaryngology compete with larger fields regarding impact factor?: is percentile-based impact factor a solution?

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, USA.


Impact factor (IF) consists of reporting the number of references an average article in a given journal receives over a 2-year period. Despite several valid criticisms, IF has become an important component of academic advancement. The authors sought to investigate the possible relationship between size of specialty field and IF. The top 10 journals of 13 specialty fields were selected based on IF as reported by Journal Citations Reports on the Web of Science. Specialty field population was obtained from the American Board of Medical Specialties. A highly positive correlation (r = 0.9) was noted with smaller fields (eg, otolaryngology) having lower IFs. To overcome this population bias, a percentile-based impact factor (PIF) may be used where the top journal within a field is given 100%, the worst 0%, and all other journals' IFs are proportionately scaled in between the 2 extremes. PIF acts to "level the playing field," allowing between-specialty field comparisons.

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