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CARDIOVASCULAR JOURNAL OF AFRICA • Volume 27, No 6, November/December 2016



From the Desk

Measuring publication impact, and publishing and funding models

The impact factor, or, more correctly, the journal impact factor

[JIF; Thompsons Reuters (ISI)] has featured in previous reports of


Cardiovascular Journal of Africa



As expected, it has

been steadily rising and is now at 1.022 (2015). This is not to be

scoffed at. Of the 14 listed medical journals in Africa, it is third to


South African Medical Journal

(SAMJ; JIF = 1.5). Similarly, in

another major database, Scopus, it ranks at number 184 out of 333

journals of cardiovascular medicine globally. Within Africa it is the

only cardiovascular journal indexed by Thompson Reuters and also

by Scopus. These statistics are based on citations to articles that

appear in journals, and formulae that relate the number of citations

to published articles in a journal over a given time period,


and are

part of the more extensive ways of evaluating scientific output under

the umbrella term bibliometrics.

Historically, authors tied their status to that of the journals in

which they published, and the higher the JIF, the higher the status

of an author. However, similar exercises can also be performed for

an article impact and individual impact (H factor). This is very nicely

set out in the article by Agarwal

et al

., where using the first author

as an example, the gamut of journal, article and individual-level

citation-based statistics are calculated and discussed.


However, although the journal is progressing well, there are

significant challenges, and as a medico-scientific publication,

the CVJA receives many more submissions than it accepts for

publication. These are turbulent times in the publishing world and

one is reminded of the words in Bob Dylan’s song (1964), “The times

they are a-changin’, … you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a

stone, for the times they are a-changin’.”

Globally, the reading of printed versions of newspapers and

scholarly articles has declined, particularly of the latter, in favour of

the internet. However, advertisements in printed journals are a very

important source of income.

Furthermore, concomitant with these changes in print-

distribution has been the Open Access (OA) movement, which

believes that the products of science should be freely available to all

and easily attainable since publishing on the internet, superficially

at least, is cheap. However, even if articles are not printed on paper,

there are many processes involved in publishing. Some of these

include the handling of submissions, refereeing of submitted articles

(traditionally free of charge by fellow scientists), editing, proof

reading, loading onto a website and management of the website.

Therefore personnel and outsourcing functions become necessary.


This has led to public-funded research reports, with universities

and some private organisations requiring scientific content to be freely

available on publication on the internet. This removes subscription

incentives. In addition, being accepted into PubMed Central (PMC)

also requires content to be made freely available. PMC, as pointed out

in a previous article, may effectively steal traffic.


Targeting articles of

interest and finding them on PMC does not even bring the searcher

to the website of the journal. So, this becomes a disincentive to both

subscription to journals and to buying single articles.


Print has rapidly been making way for a digitised form of

presentation and the CVJA has kept pace with this trend.



journal has also followed suit with OA, it has been accepted by PMC,

and its content is freely available in other ways.


To make up for the

loss of income from reducing printing, for a fee, articles are published

online ahead of publication. Many authors are making use of this

option, but it does not adequately cover the loss of income.

This is an appropriate time to consider the role of country-

based or territorial journals; in this case the CVJA, which is the

official journal for the Pan-Africa Society of Cardiology. Important

functions of a medico-scientific journal are to publish quality, peer-

reviewed, original scientific articles and good review articles. Credible

reviews are very important as we are competing with predatory

journals that solicit articles with a promise of quick (mostly

superficial) reviews and acceptance of almost all submissions.



important functions for societies are the publishing of abstracts from

congresses, and providing a platform for exchange of letters, debates,

dissemination of policy, guidelines, community news, and news on

appliances and pharmaceutical developments.

How then should medico-scientific journals be funded in this

changed environment? Most OA journals now require an article-

processing charge (APC).


This is the so-called ‘author-pay’ model. Even

journals that remained propriety-based with paid-for content, such as


New England Journal of Medicine

(NEJM) and


, will

make content available on an OA basis if a research sponsor requires it.

Consequently, we now see three types of journals in terms

of availability of content, namely, pure OA, hybrid (commercial

content-for-sale with some OA articles) and pure content-for-sale

journals. With regard to viewing the content, we see it as pure

internet, hybrid internet and paper-based content and, nowadays,

the almost extinct pure paper-based distribution of content. APCs

average at about US$2 000 while hybrid journals such as


and NEJM average at about US$3 000 per article if it has to be OA.


The CVJA currently requires a submission fee to cover at least

the submission costs. This fixed fee is because every submission

on the Editorial Manager system costs money, whether the article

is accepted or not. Most OA journals just request an APC on

acceptance of a manuscript for publishing. CVJA will have to follow

this trend, in line with other journals, or the route of maintaining the

submission fee, and add on an APC.

Paul Brink

Department of Medicine, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa


1. Brink AJ. Impact factor: use and abuse.

Cardiovasc J Sth Afr






2. Brink AJ. New impact factor and PubMed Central service from the

Cardiovascular Journal of Africa


Cardiovasc J Afr



(7): 364.

3. Brink PA. Article visibility: journal impact factor and availability of full

text in PubMed Central and open access.

Cardiovasc J Afr





4. Agarwal A, Durairajanayagam D, Tatagari S, Esteves SC, Harlev A,

Henkel R,

et al.

Bibliometrics: tracking research impact by selecting the

appropriate metrics.

Asian J Androl



(2): 296–309.

5. Bjork B-C, Shen C, Laakso M. A longitudinal study of independent

scholar-published open access journals.

Peer J



: e1990.

6. Brink AJ. CVJSA e-journal publication.

Cardiovasc J Sth Afr





7. Vinny PW, Vishnu VY, Lal V. Trends in scientific publishing: Dark clouds

loom large.

J Neurol Sci



: 119–120.

8. Solomon F, Bjork B-C. Article processing charges for open access publi-

cation – the situation for research intensive universities in the USA and


Peer J



: e2264.