The Journal "Scientific Reports", published by the Nature publishing group, is gaining popularity with time (impact factor now around 5.2). It highlights its editorial policy as one that is focused on scientific rigour and validity, rather than perceived impact.

My question is:

  • How well regarded is "Scientific Reports" in the academic community compared to other more-traditional ones, especially in the physical sciences and engineering?
  • Also, does the fact that it imposes article processing charges and publishes only open-access articles reduce from its perceived rank as a journal?
  • Is its high impact factor a result of these factors, or is it actually due to high quality articles published in it?
  • Many researchers know that some well-regarded specialist journals might have relatively low impact factor, but their reputation is still top-ranked. Say, for example, that I have a paper in physics or engineering, and I could either publish it in a specialised Physical Review or IEEE journal versus Scientific Reports, which one would be more well-regarded (assuming the first two have less impact factor than Scientific Reports)?
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    Personally, I have not been impressed by the papers I have read from Scientific Reports. Physical Review publishes good quality stuff, but can be challenging to deal with sometimes. – Anonymous Physicist Sep 7 '16 at 2:21
  • I don't think IF matters too much, people will search, find the article and look at the journal later. Especially if it's not among the highest ranked journals in the field. Also, over time the impact factor will drop (take a look at PLOS ONE: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…) – VonBeche Sep 7 '16 at 7:27
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    Is the Nature publishing group's “Scientific Reports” journal well regarded by whom? There isn't a singular, monolithic academic community. – JeffE Sep 7 '16 at 13:52
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    Indeed @JeffE brings up a good point. Some disciplines, like mathematics, seem to care a lot less about these metrics, especially for non-mathematical journals. However, a lot of biological disciplines seem to really care about IF, and discussions of IF of publications comes up when people are talking about new potential hires. Ask your colleagues/adviser for their opinion since it's the local opinion that matters. – Chris Rackauckas Mar 19 '17 at 16:27
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    Please see this link to understand the whole matter. – user77593 Jul 25 '17 at 3:52

My take: any journal that considers rigour and validity only, and not perceived impact, will be less well regarded than an equivalent journal that has a good reputation for rigour and validity and also considers impact.

On the plus side:

  • Page charges are normal for open access, and open access is a positive, so I don't think there's a problem there.
  • As a Nature journal, Scientific Reports inherits a little of the "glow" of Nature, which will lift its reputation relative to other journals that don't consider impact (e.g. Helyion and PLoS).
  • Nature journals employ full-time professional editors, which means that people submitting to Scientific Reports can also expect fast, professional review and editing. This help's the journal's reputation, too.

An impact factor of 5 is very high in many fields, but nothing to crow about in other fields. So I would expect this journal to attract higher quality papers from those fields in which 5 is considered a high impact factor, and lower quality articles from fields that typically have high impact factors.

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Based on my experience, this journal is very good for publishing interdisciplinary research works and the papers in this journal are highly noticed by researchers. Also, the Nature publisher is a very important factor that you should consider in your's decision.

About IEEE, it depends on which target journal you think about it? IEEE have several journals e.g. in computer science, you opt to choose among IEEE TKDE, IEEE cybernetics, IEEE man, systems, IEEE PAMI, and etc. I could say that the Nature SCi REP is better than IEEE TKDE but not better than IEEE PAMI.

About Physical Review, the same argument like IEEE! For example, the physical review letters is better than Nature SCI REP.

In order to recognize the validity and impact of a journal, several metrics should be regarded along the impact factor, including the H index, Eigenfactor Score, and Article Influence Score.

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Scientific Report judges the papers according to their validity of the methodology and analysis and not the perceived impact of the paper on the field. I can not speak for all of the papers that appears in this journal but at the first times that I got familiar with this journal and I was not ware of this fact, I read a lot of papers from this journal and at the end I was wondering what new thing this paper added to the state of the art. It is better to focus your efforts on journals that pay more attention to the novelty and impact of the papers they publish. In our new era of mega-publishing, people are very selective in their reading resources and they probably prefer to read the papers with higher impact and novelty that can help them to discover the new directions of the field. Although the high impact of Scientific Reports journal can be flaring at the first, but researchers who are familiar with the field and the journal eventually find that the impact may be the results of some another hidden factors like:

  • The tendency of researchers to cite papers from open-access journals.
  • The perceived prestige of Nature publishing group.
  • The high volume of Review papers that get publish in that journal.
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