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I recently found out that a team of colleagues published in a journal without impact factor, though peer-reviewed. According to my supervisor this happens sometimes when the study cannot be published in a top journal, and then it could be better to do so than publish in a low profile journal whose impact factor would drag down the mean impact factor of the papers published by that team.

Is this common? If so, which elements can specifically drive a research team to choose this option?

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    Could you write your field? Whether people care about impact factors is somewhat field-dependent. Also, one reason why a journal may not have an impact factor is that it is too new. If a new journal emerges with extremely well-known researchers in the editor board, this indicates the potential for a very high quality of papers in the future. This is a good reason for submitting your own high-quality work there. – DCTLib Jul 31 '15 at 11:58
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    Based on your description they care too much about the mighty impact factor. – Roland Jul 31 '15 at 12:00
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    This is the first time I've seen the phrase "mean impact factor". Is this a thing now? – JeffE Jul 31 '15 at 12:33
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This reasoning is Wrong and Bad in several ways.

  • First, computing "mean impact factor" for a person or group is insane and should be resisted at all costs. Even amongst IF-crazy groups, the metric is generally how many high-IF publications have been obtained (ignoring low-IF publications), not the fraction of high-IF publications.

  • Second, even if you're going to commit yourself to such insanity, the reasonable mathematical interpretation of "no impact factor" is "IF = 0", not "omit from data." Thus, if you're using this crazy statistic, it should be worse to publish in a no-IF venue.

  • Finally, a journal with no IF generally falls into one of two categories: either it is good but very new (or just not yet covered by ISI), in which case it will likely have an IF in a couple of years and the strategy will be undone, or else is it complete trash and likely predatory, in which case it will be a worse stain on your record than a moderate-IF publication, even amongst the most IF-crazy communities.

My only possible conclusions are that either:

  1. your supervisor is seriously distorted in their thinking, or
  2. your supervisor is lying to you out of embarrassment to cover the fact that they published (intentionally or accidentally) in a trash/predatory journal.
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    I would disagree with your #3 - predatory certainly should mean no IF, but no IF for an established journal != predatory. ISI indexing is variable across disciplines, and is not merely dependent on quality - some journals are omitted because of a local geographic focus, for example. Non-English language journals are also strongly underrepresented. – Andrew Jul 31 '15 at 13:08
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    @Andrew Given that ISI has been expanding their scope and retroactively including quality venues that were not previously included (e.g., CS conferences), I would say this still falls into my first fork of point #3: will likely have IF in the future. I'll edit to clarify. – jakebeal Jul 31 '15 at 13:13
  • At least in my field, there are few well-established journals not indexed in WoS. The reason is, they publish mostly non-Englis papers. – Alex Jul 31 '15 at 19:26

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