A company that indexes journals — which, in turn, designates their impact factors — has delisted Oncotarget, a cancer journal that was recently removed from MEDLINE.
Just three months ago, on October 18, the indexing company Clarivate Analytics (formerly part of Thomson Reuters) named Oncotarget a “rising star” in the field of molecular biology and genetics.
We remain perplexed by the abrupt decision to not include Oncotarget into the master list of the journals for 2018 without advanced notice and clear grounds. We are actively working to understand and rectify the situation.
We contacted Clarivate to learn more about why the journal was delisted; a spokesperson told Retraction Watch they never publicly disclose specifics, but said the decision was made “after thorough review:”
Many factors are taken into account when evaluating journals for coverage in Web of Science, ranging from the qualitative to the quantitative. We regularly review the journals to ensure they meet our stringent criteria.
She noted that the journal was deselected from Web of Science, the Journal Citation Reports (JCR), and all other Clarivate Analytics products:
…the journal no longer meets the standards necessary for continued coverage.
The spokesperson said it will continue to index all papers from Oncotarget published through the first few volumes of 2018.
A representative of Oncotarget told us it plans to publish an editorial today responding to the decision by Clarivate. [See update at end of post.]
We asked Clarivate to explain how the journal could be considered a “rising star” in its field, based on Clarivate’s “Essential Science Indicators,” then worthy of deselection only months later; the spokesperson told us:
Essential Science Indicators by Clarivate Analytics provides citation rankings of scientists, institutions, countries, and journals broken out by broad fields of science. A citation threshold is applied to each field ranking; scientists and institutions are selected if they are in the top 1% by total citations in a given field, and countries and journals must be in the top 50%. The Essential Science Indicators is updated every two months, and the October 2017 blog post relates to a quantitative analysis only, of the data available on the scientists, institutions, countries, and journals that have the largest percentage increase in total citations from one update to the next. The full explanation of how this ESI quantitative metric is calculated is here.
But, many factors are taken into account when evaluating journals for coverage in Web of Science, ranging from the qualitative to the quantitative. We regularly review the journals to ensure they meet our stringent criteria and in the normal ebb and flow of our business, journals move in and out of the list.
Forty journals were delisted from Clarivate’s Web of Science Core Collection last year — including Tumor Biology, after the journal had to retract 107 papers accepted using faked reviews.
Yesterday, Clarivate posted an essay about its general decision-making regarding journal indexing.
On its homepage, the journal lists its latest impact factor as the 2016 value, 5.168.
Update, 1200 UTC, 1/20/18: Oncotarget has published a piece by Blagosklonny, which reads, in part:
We are hopeful that we can work with Clarivate to expeditiously reverse their decision and to continue indexing Oncotarget.
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