Coverage of Indian S&T Journals in SCI/JCR*K Satyanarayana & N C Jain
Scientometrics Unit, Division of Publication & Information,
Indian Council of Medical Research, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi-110029
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Coverage of Indian S&T journals in international databases is quite poor more so in the ISI databases viz., SCI and JCR. In the SCI, only 9-10 S&T journals from India were covered during 1996 - 2000 and its companion publication , the JCR covered 37 - 51 journals from India. During 2000 the total coverage in SCI and JCR was 10 and 47 or a mere 0.267 % and 0.827% respectively. The Impact Factor (IF) of Indian journals covered in the JCR during 1996 _ 2000 varied between 0.000 and 0.894 . As many as 21 of the 47 journals have an IF of about 0.100 or less. No Indian journal has ever reached the magical figure of IF 1.000, the highest IF recorded being only 0.894 for the Journal of Genetics. There is steady drop in the SCI/JCR coverage of Indian journals with the number coming down from 24 in 1984 to 10 now. There is need to understand SCI/JCR and formulate strategies for the re-inclusion of journals like Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, Sankhya as also other journals from India. The paper discusses some of the successful stories from India and suggests strategies to improve the coverage of Indian journals in the SCI/JCR database.
KEYWORDS: Impact factor; Indian S & T journals; Journal Citation Reports; JCR; Science Citation Index; SCI.
Impact Factor - A measure of the frequency with which the `average article' in a journal has been cited in a particular year. The JCR impact factor is basically a ratio of citations received in a particular year by the citable items published in the journal in the previous two years to the sum of the aforesaid citable items. For example, Indian Journal of Medical Research (IJMR) published 85 and 77 citable items (research articles etc) in 1998 and 1999 respectively. These citable items received 62 citations in the year 2000. Hence, the IJMR impact factor for the year 2000 is 62/(85+77) = 0.383.
The Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), Philadelphia, USA (http://www.isinet.com) is a well known international database publishing company. The ISI database now covers over 16,000 learned journals, books and proceedings in the sciences, social sciences and arts and humanities. An important feature of this database is its coverage of about 8,000 international journals every year . Specifically, one of its products, the Science Citation Index (SCI) provides citation-based information on the world's `most significant' scientific and technology journals. The SCI covers literature of science, medicine, agriculture, technology, and behavioural sciences. The coverage of journals in the SCI as also in each subject category varies each year. In 2000, the SCI covered 3, 745 source publications (journals) including 10 from India. For analysis, the SCI includes only editorial material such as journal articles, short communications and letters to editors (from some journals which contain significant scientific content) from all the issues of the SCI source journals published and available to ISI during the time period covered. Book reviews, in general, are not covered; however, book reviews from journals like Nature, Science and The Scientist are indexed. The SCI also indexes a few monograph series, which are processed like journals.
The Journal Citation Reports (JCR ) Science Edition is a companion to the SCI and provides quantifiable statistical data to determine the relative importance of S & T journals within their subject categories. There are as many as 160 subject categories in the JCR. A comprehensive and quantitative journal guide, the JCR reports current information on nearly 6,000 of the world's leading science & technology journals published by over 3000 global publishers from 60 countries . JCR's coverage is thus both multidisciplinary and international. Specifically, the 2000 JCR Science Edition covered 5,684 S&T journals. In fact, JCR is the only source of citation data on journals which provides a set of quantitative tools for ranking, evaluating, categorizing, and comparing journals. The parameters used for these analyses include total cites, impact factor, immediacy index, year-wise distribution of articles and cited half-life. Thus, though a controversial tool, the SCI is the only source that looks at the relative `quality' of scholarly journals each year, analysed through the above mentioned citation-based parameters.
There are an estimated half a million serials which qualify as journals or serials published in English and other languages. The current figure in the ISSN register of the ISSN International Centre, Paris is 1,029,309 . Most of these contain articles with some original research published in non-English periodicals, although of variable quality. Admittedly, many of them do not qualify for inclusion in the highly competitive secondary information services which demand stringent criteria of quality and standard. Not surprisingly, many journals do not figure in a majority of reputed secondary international databases of periodicals such as Index Medicus, Chemical Abstracts or even lists of scholarly periodicals brought out by various publishers/agencies The Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory 1999, the premier serials reference source, for example, provides information on 157,173 serials published throughout the world under 973 subject headings . The Directory of Periodicals Published in India 2000 lists bibliographic information on about 12,000 serials including 681 newspapers . The Directory of Indian Scientific Periodicals 1992, brought out by the Indian National Scientific Documentation Centre, New Delhi, lists only 1991 journal titles including about 120 secondary publications .
Despite these impressive number of journals published from India, their coverage in international databases is quite poor. More so in the ISI databases, viz, SCI and JCR, the most difficult and most sought-after global secondary information source. In the SCI, only 9-10 S&T journals from India were covered during 1996 - 2000 and its companion publication, the JCR covered 37 - 51 journals from India [7-8]. During 2000, the total coverage in SCI and JCR was 10 and 47 or a mere 0.267 % and 0.827% respectively. The impact factor (IF) of Indian journals covered in the JCR during 1996 _ 2000 varied between 0.000 and 0.894 (Table 1). As many as 21 of the 47 journals have an IF of about 0.100 or less. In fact, no Indian journal has ever reached the magical figure of IF 1.000, the highest IF recorded being only 0.894 for the Journal of Genetics published by the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore for the year 1998. Roughly about 40% of the journals included in the SCI/JCR have an impact factor of 1.000 and above.
A quick analysis of the Indian journals covered in the SCI shows that the total number remained 10 over the past four years. These include one multidisciplinary science journal - Current Science, three chemistry journals Indian Journal of Chemistry Sections A and B, Proceedings of the Indian Academy of Sciences - Chemical Sciences, two medical journals Indian Journal of Medical Research, National Medical Journal of India, two biology journals Journal of Biosciences, Journal of Genetics and two physics journals Journal of Astronomy and Astrophysics and Pramana - Journal of Physics.
There is a continuous exercise of evaluation at the ISI which is why many journals are added/deleted from the ISI database every year. This sudden appearance and disappearance of journals makes an interesting study. For example, during the 21 year period (1980-2000) three journals were in and out of the SCI/JCR database. The NIMHANS Journal published by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, an institute of the Govt of India, was indexed for only one year (1998). Sankhya, published by the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata was included in the SCI/JCR continuously for a seven year period (1987 _ 93). From 1994, Sankhya is out of the SCI/JCR. The Indian Journal of Experimental Biology published by the National Institute of Science Communication (NISCOM), a New Delhi-based CSIR laboratory, on the other hand, has been in and out of the SCI/JCR basket several times over the 21 year period (Table 2). It was discontinued once in 1986, included from 1987 to 1990 and then again discontinued.
It is difficult to say what makes a journal qualify for inclusion in the SCI/JCR database although some criteria are listed in their web site . However, several factors are known to influence citation patterns. These include the subject of coverage (new biology areas such as immunology, molecular medicine, cell biology are highly cited among biomedical sciences), fashionable subjects (such as the area which just has fetched a Nobel Prize; everyone seems to be working on that subject/area for the next few years; what is more, many such papers often get highly cited!), kinds of articles published (methodology and controversial papers tend to get highly cited while outstanding mathematics/physics papers may not), periodicity (weekly journals have more `citable' items as compared to a monthly journal); and types of articles (very good original articles get less cited as compared to an average review article).
With careful choice and mix of editorial content, a shrewd editor can ensure sustained high citation rate and IF of his journal. In view of the prestige, impact factor gives a journal - high IF boosts its subscription and circulation-journal editors have been known to adopt all means to publish that paper which has the potency of being highly cited.
There was a case where the editor of the prestigious British journal Nature rejected a paper on photosynthesis, despite the paper being of very high quality as he considered the area as poor cited. That piece of research fetched a Nobel prize for the German scientist Helmut Michel. John Maddox was, however, unperturbed about his decision [Authors did not provide any documentary proof to substantiate the statement - Ed.].
It is equally difficult to predict why a journal gets excluded. It could be on he basis of consistently low citation rate as also due to other reasons. No database publisher, including the Federal Government supported Index Medicus are able to give convincing inclusion/exclusion policy (most are also unwilling). But, if one carefully analyses the citation data given in the JCR, some general trends can be noticed. We are in an era of super-specialty where niche journals [journals devoted to highly specialised areas - Ed.]are increasingly becoming prominent for two reasons. Subscriptions to general journals by the libraries are dwindling due to cost factor. With the ever increasing cost, individual subscribers would prefer a specialty journal of their interest unless the journal is of the class of Nature, Science, New England Journal of Medicine or The Lancet, acknowledged leaders with consistently high quality and standard in scientific publishing. Viewed from this perspective, the Indian journals that do not get included in the SCI/JCR suffer from the classic symptoms of Third World research. Among others, these include indifferent quality of research, poor peer review practices, lack of punctuality and regularity, rigorous standards in editing and production [9-10]. Interestingly, unlike the West where some of the widely known and well-produced journals are brought by scholarly societies, periodicals brought out by Indian societies particularly suffer from the malaise listed above.
The best journals from India are either brought out by the Government (four of the ten listed in SCI) or interestingly from a national academy - the Indian Academy of Sciences (IAS), Bangalore. The IAS has over the years has built up a formidable reputation for combining quality with all the other parameters expected of a scholarly journal. Not surprisingly, six of the 10 SCI-indexed Indian journals come from the IAS stable. Current Science especially now has an enviable record of excellence with a very dynamic and outspoken scientist-editor P Balaram at the helm of affairs. Very few Indian journals can match the aggressiveness with which the journal takes on any issue that concerns science and scientists. And Balaram deserves full credit for this welcome change of editorial freedom in a journal that is rather heavily subsidized by the Government! For established journals, editors need to do little as its reputation would ensure its continuity . For the development of a journal, the role an editor is very crucial and it is well known that a journal is as good as its editor. Current Science is a shining example of the difference that an outstanding scientist-editor can make in shaping a multidisciplinary journal, as the IF steadily rose from 0.076 (1990) to 0.567 (1999) .
With some efforts, it should be possible to bring back many of the journals that are out of the SCI/JCR basket and even increase the SCI coverage from the current 10 to somewhere near the 1984 level of 24 . The National Medical Journal of India (NMJI) is a good example how proactive policy can ensure the inclusion of a journal in an international database. Started in 1988, the NMJI registered its presence in a span of just one decade in all the biomedical secondary information services including the SCI where it figures continuously from 1997. Indian journals which have been excluded (like IJEB, Sankhya) need to look inward and analyse reasons why they are out of SCI/JCR. Is it because the subject coverage is too wide and diffuse in an era of super-specialty (IJEB) or there is lack of consistent excellence, quality and standard expected of a scholarly journal (Sankhya)? The problem with many Indian journals is the reluctance to change with time, and cope with new challenges posed by the rapidly changing scholarly communication system. In fact, the current scenario needs to be viewed by us as an opportunity rather than a crisis .With the advent of new information technology, Web-based publishing and retrieval is making rapid inroads into the way scientists communicate with each other. Print journals do not just seem to matter anymore. In fact, with the advent of PubMed Central and its clones E-Biosci and BioMed Central, the very existence of print-on-paper scholarly journal is at stake .
We thank Shri Ramesh Kumar and Ms Susmita Das for providing help in collecting some data.
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Table 1. Impact Factor of Indian Journals as per Journal Citation
Reports (JCR) on CD-ROM
Science Edition & coverage of Indian Journals in the Science Citation Index (SCI) during 1996 - 2000
Journal 1996 IF 1997 IF 1998 IF 1999 IF 2000 IF
Annals of Arid Zone 0.033 0.027 0.083 0.078 0.200
Asian Journal of Chemistry 0.187 0.159 0.219
Asian Journal of Spectroscopy 0.389
Bulletin of Electrochemistry 0.198 0.165 0.098
Bulletin of Materials Science 0.278 0.296 0.287 0.319 0.393
Current Science India 0.364* 0.376* 0.515* 0.567* 0.512*
Defence Science Journal 0.097 0.086 0.060
Electronics Information and Planning 0.010 0.011 0.024 0.000
IETE Journal of Research 0.056 0.080 0.023
IETE Technical Review 0.000 0.108
Indian Journal of Agricultural Sciences 0.032 0.043 0.034 0.076 0.050
Indian Journal of Agronomy 0.020 0.020 0.025 0.032 0.026
Indian Journal of Animal Sciences 0.072 0.080 0.061 0.101 0.084
Indian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics 0.293 0.335 0.427 0.430 0.256
Indian Journal of Chemistry, Section A 0.395* 0.377* 0.391* 0.304* 0.313*
Indian Journal of Chemistry, Section B 0.372* 0.325* 0.379* 0.346* 0.421*
Indian Journal of Chemical Technology 0.187 0.220 0.262 0.317 0.296
Indian Journal of Engineering & Material Sciences 0.098 0.133 0.133 0.126 0.116
Indian Journal of Fibre and Textile Research 0.092 0.137 0.157
Indian Journal of Heterocyclic Chemistry 0.096 0.137 0.140 0.163 0.185
Indian Journal of Marine Sciences 0.123 0.099 0.102 0.080 0.127
Indian Journal of Medical Research 0.251* 0.318* 0.400* 0.365* 0.383*
Indian Journal of Pure and Applied Mathematics 0.091 0.092 0.077 0.098 0.062
Indian Journal of Pure and Applied Physics 0.229 0.252 0.123 0.228 0.214
Indian Veterinary Journal 0.056 0.056 0.064 0.050 0.044
Journal of Advanced Zoology 0.080 0.057 0.000 0.036 0.058
Journal of Applied Animal Research 0.238 0.188 0.256 0.214 0.144
Journal of Astrophysics and Astronomy 0.489* 0.439* 0.111* 0.286* 0.625*
Journal of Biosciences 0.397* 0.435* 0.520* 0.370* 0.404*
Journal of Camel Practice and Research 0.034 0.132 0.034
Journal of Environmental Biology 0.059 0.061 0.081 0.107 0.103
Journal of Food Science and Technology Mysore 0.128 0.113 0.134 0.112 0.151
Journal of Genetics 0.278* 0.317* 0.894* 0.419* 0.588*
Journal of Geological Society of India 0.355 0.298 0.329 0.355 0.390
Journal of Institution of Electronics and 0.062
Journal of the Indian Chemical Society 0.141 0.129 0.191 0.192 0.248
Journal of Plant Biochemistry and Biotechnology 0.203 0.136 0.291 0.340 0.143
Journal of Polymer Materials 0.379 0.352 0.495
Journal of Scientific and Industrial Research India 0.290 0.287 0.201 0.208
Metals Materials and Processes 0.033 0.045
National Academy of Science Letters 0.071 0.078 0.080 0.048 0.059
National Medical Journal of India 0.326* 0.363* 0.333*
Neurology India 0.100 0.057 0.092
NIMHANS Journal 0.063
Oriental Insects 0.179 0.133 0.143 0.276 0.216
Proceedings of the Indian Academy of Sciences_ 0.400* 0.473* 0.294* 0.339* 0.254*
Proceedings of the Indian Academy of Sciences_ 0.563 0.130 0.136 0.229 0.412
Earth And Planetary Sciences
Proceedings of the Indian Academy of Sciences_ 0.143 0.184 0.149 0.048 0.061
Pramana _ Journal of Physics 0.354* 0.340* 0.284* 0.278* 0.314*
Research and Industry 0.134 0.044
Sadhana _ Academy Proceedings in 0.075 0.071 0.068 0.144 0.171
Transactions of the Indian Institute of Metals 0.087 0.050 0.069 0.057 0.049
Transactions of Metal Finishers Association of India 0.014
Indian / Total Journals in JCR 38 / 4779 37 / 4963 51 / 5467 47 / 5550 47 / 5684
(% Indian Coverage) (0.795%) (0.746%) (0.933%) (0.847%) (0.827%)
* Indian / Total Journals in the SCI 9 / 3381 10 / 3453 10 / 3542 10 / 3633 10 / 3745
(% Indian Coverage) (0.795%) (0.746%) (0.933%) (0.847%) (0.827%)
* covered in the SCI
Table 2. Impact Factor Profile of three Indian Journals appearing in/
the SCI/JCR Database during 1980 - 2000
Figures in cols. 2-4 indicate impact factor.
* The opinions expressed in the paper are those of the authors only.
Information Today & Tomorrow, Vol. 21, No. 2, June 2002, p.6-p.11