1. Carroll, Susan V.

Article Content

The Journal of Neuroscience Nursing (JNN) has been committed to publishing excellence in neuroscience nursing for the past four decades. Our authors, reviewers, editorial board members, and editorial staff work hard to print work that reflects specialty knowledge, research, and changes in practice that affect our patients' lives. JNN's influence on clinical practice and outcomes is evident in each issue.

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It also is important, however, to realize and understand the impact that we make on the larger profession of nursing and other biological, behavioral, and health sciences. We can "toot our own horn," pat ourselves on our collective backs, and generally feel good about what we have accomplished. But, just as individual self-esteem comes in part from others, professional esteem comes in part from our colleagues. In the 1950s, Eugene Garfield looked for a way to objectively evaluate the contributions of scholarly papers published in a variety of scientific disciplines. In the course of his work, he investigated Bradford's Law, a hypothesis that a small group of core publications in science contributes a larger-than-expected proportion of high-impact articles in a given field. Garfield realized that the core scholarly literature for any specific scientific discipline typically included fewer than 1,000 journals, and building on Bradford's Law, he concluded, "there are relatively few [journals] with a very strong relevance to the given topic, whereas there are many with a weaker relevance to it" (Gottlieb & Clarke, 2005). From this work, Garfield created the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI; now Thomson ScientificTM) Impact Factor.


Today, the impact factor (IF) is used to evaluate the impact that selected professional journals have made on the larger "Web of Science." Journals are selected for impact rating based on editorial content, timeliness, international editorial conventions or standards, and international diversity. Thomson Scientific calculates an IF for individual journals that it chooses to rank. In simple terms, the calculation is based on the number of times articles appearing in a selected journal are cited in other journals included in Thomson Scientific's databases divided by the total number of eligible articles in a 2-year period (Gottlieb & Clarke, 2005). A journal's IF is sensitive to the types of articles it publishes; literature reviews that are heavily cited can skew the IF upward and case studies may skew the IF downward. Also, citation patterns vary significantly by disciplines and specialties within disciplines. Fields such as cancer research are perceived as fast-moving or cutting-edge and often report outcomes of clinical and bench lab research that appeal to a wide public. Consequently, they often are cited, and their specialty journals have a higher IF score than others.


Now, you may ask, "What is the relationship of IFs to neuroscience nursing?" Recently, JNN was selected by Thomson Scientific to receive an IF. Of the more than 600 nursing journals published, only approximately 60 are rated with an IF. We are joining a very select group of publications that are recognized for their contribution to the knowledge, theory, and science of nursing care. Approval is only the first step in the process. We will not receive a definitive IF score until sometime in 2009; we have to submit published issues for indexing for at least 12 months before an IF can be calculated for us.


Other than the eventual assignment of an IF, what does this mean to JNN? Once again, an IF represents public acknowledgment of our impact and influence on our discipline. IFs are a part of the decision-making process authors use when submitting manuscripts to particular journals. Funding agencies review the credentials and publications of individuals sending proposals. Nurses who work and teach in academic settings can use their published works' IFs in seeking promotion or tenure. Nurses who work in systems with clinical or professional ladders can use IFs as a measure of professional development in seeking promotion. An IF also puts us on par with our nonnursing medical and scientific colleagues; it gives us a larger professional footprint.


Will this change our publishing practices? Will we select only research and review manuscripts to boost our IF? My answer is an emphatic, "No." We will continue, as we have for 40 years, to publish the best of neuroscience nursing. We will continue to look at what manuscripts have an impact on our patients and our understanding of their care and needs. We do hope, though, that our readers will think of us first as they choose a journal for publication. Let's show the scientific world what we can do!!



Our selection as an ISI-rated journal would not have been possible without the guidance and leadership of Chris Stewart-Amidei, our previous editor, who set the standards high and held all of us to them. I also want to thank Kari Lee, JNN's managing editor, and Katie Bianchi, our former editorial assistant, for the work they did in preparing and submitting our application for approval.




Gottlieb, L. N., & Clarke, S. P. (2005). Impact factors and the law of unintended consequences. Canadian Journal of Nursing Research, 37(4), 5-10. Retrieved March 25, 2008, from [Context Link]