Alternative metric for citations

The Journal Impact Factor (JIF), broadly used to evaluate science journals, now has a competitor. In December 2016, Elsevier, one of the largest publishers of books and journals, launched CiteScore. Like the JIF (an international index produced by the company Thomson Reuters), the new metric measures a journal’s influence within a field based on average citations per article during a given timeframe. The new metric is quite similar to the JIF but encompasses a greater number of journals. While the JIF is based on the Thomson Reuters scientific database Web of Science, which indexes around 11,000 periodicals, CiteScore uses Elsevier’s Scopus database of over 20,000 titles. Unlike the JIF, the new yardstick includes not only scientific articles but all the documents published by journals that are citable in other publications, such as editorials, letters to the editor, corrections, and news items. Editors of large journals are somewhat skeptical about the new tool, because editorials and letters are rarely cited and might seriously damage a periodical’s performance. The journal The Lancet, for example, ranks fourth on the JIF list but fails to make the top 200 in CiteScore. Specialists told the journal Nature that if CiteScore catches on, these peculiarities could prompt journals to change their behavior in hopes of maximizing their score. “Adoption of CiteScore will push editors to stop publishing non-research documents, or shunting them into a marginal publication or their society website,” said Phil Davis, a publishing consultant in New York.