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Readers may have noticed that the impact factor for Fetal and Neonatal is now 3.13 – ahead of ADC on 2.6. The F&N figure has increased progressively from 2.05 in 2005. The F&N editorial team are rather pleased about this, but what does it mean, why should we care and why should our readers care?
As Editors, we care because the increased impact factor means that we are publishing articles that are more frequently cited than before. This is a proxy for saying that the articles matter more to the medical/scientific community: they are in some sense more ‘important’, so the journal has become more influential among that community. We also care because authors who are employed by universities have the quality of their work assessed on the basis of the impact factors of the journals in which they are published, so the higher our impact factor, the more likely we are to get submissions of better papers from high-quality academic research groups. To give some idea of where we sit on the highly non-linear scale of impact factors, that of NEJM is 53.5, BMJ 13.7, Pediatrics 5.39, Journal of Pediatrics 4.1, Seminars in Fetal and Neonatal Medicine 2.8, Clinics in Perinatology 2.4, Neonatology 2.3, Journal of Perinatology 2.0 and Acta Paediatrica 1.95.
We think readers will care because they are now reading a journal that has, by a flawed but widely accepted and objective measure, become better, more important and more influential. As many of our readers are also people who submit work to us, we hope that we will become a more likely first option for high-quality papers from the academic community. We hope that success can feed on success and drive our quality and influence higher still.
Authors who are not academics can write to influence practice rather than be required to publish their work in a journal with a higher impact factor that may not be read by many colleagues. One of the strengths of F&N is that, as well as being available online and through libraries worldwide, it is sent to more than 12 000 members and fellows of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health as well as a wide readership in Europe (in part through the European Academy of Paediatrics) and beyond. So, we anticipate that we should retain and enhance our inherent attractiveness for submissions by non-academics while increasing our credibility for academic authors.
We aim to publish well-conducted, well-written studies that advance knowledge or provide a foundation for more detailed or larger studies. Obviously, we are particularly interested in good randomised controlled trials (RCTs) or meta-analyses of RCTs, but a look at our contents is a reminder that useful knowledge still comes from many other kinds of study design. We value well-constructed and well-reported observational, case-control and other study designs. As there are now agreed standards for reporting many types of study, we encourage authors to adhere to these when preparing their papers.
We publish online ahead of print very soon after first acceptance. This guarantees readers rapid access to cutting edge work, and authors a fast track into the literature. It is difficult for us to speed up the process of peer review because we are dependent on the voluntary services of busy clinicians and scientists who already have full time jobs. As competition for publication space is high, we now take very few case reports unless they are unusually informative and interesting.
Most of our reviews are commissioned, so ideas for uncommissioned reviews should be put to our commissioning editor first. We are likely to reject an unsolicited review if one has already been commissioned on a similar subject.
Bearing in mind that our title is Fetal as well as Neonatal, we would like to publish more work on the fetus, but we will keep our focus on material that is also interesting to our largely ‘neonatal’ readership.
Ultimately we aim to expand to become a monthly rather than bi-monthly journal, and this depends on our continuing to receive an increasing number of high-quality papers so that we can publish more work without compromising quality. We think the impact factor will be a magnet for this material and that F&N will continue to grow and develop as the premier journal for publishing new and important Fetal and Neonatal research.
Competing interests MWP is Edition Editor of F&N; BS, AS and CP are associate editors of F&N.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.