Thomson Reuters announced last week the 2013 release of its Journal Citation Reports (JCR), the source of the annual Journal Impact Factors. In comparison to the last time I asked myself “Should we take journal impact factors seriously?,” there are generally no significant changes in the impact factors of the journals in the field of mechanisms and robotics. An interesting exception, though, is the International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems (ARS Journal), whose 2012 impact factor is now a respectable 0.821. The ARS Journal is the only open-access journal in the field that is covered by the JCR. Does that mean that open-access journals have finally made it in our field?
A closer look at the ARS journal entry in JCR, reveals that 59% of all citations used in the 2012 impact factor calculations were due to self citations. This rate is way beyond the typical 10% , which means that the editor of the journal most probably encourages authors of accepted articles to cite recent papers in the ARS Journal. I like the idea of open-access journals and don’t mind paying the 870 euro (~1130US$) article processing charge, but this year too, I have no intention to submit a paper to the ARS Journal or review papers for it.
I was also disappointed to learn that both Meccanica and the Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics rely on extremely high rates of self citation: 38% and 47%, respectively. As the managing editor of the Transactions of the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering, I know how tempting is this practice, but I have resisted so far.
Now, here is the list of journals that publish papers in the field of mechanisms and robotics with their 2012 (and 2011) impact factors:
- International Journal of Robotics Research: 2.863 (down from 3.107)
- IEEE Transactions on Robotics: 2.571 (up from 2.536)
- Journal of Field Robotics: 2.152 (down from 2.244)
- Autonomous Robots: 1.908 (up from 1.500)
- International Journal of Medical Robotics and Computer Assisted Surgery: 1.488 (down from 1.588)
- Meccanica: 1.747 (up from 1.558)
- Precision Engineering: 1.393 (up from 1.167)
- Journal of Mechanical Design: 1.247 (up from 1.017)
- Robotics and Computer-Integrated Manufacturing: 1.230 (up from 1.173)
- Mechanism and Machine Theory: 1.214 (down from 1.366)
- Robotics and Autonomous Systems: 1.156 (up from 1.056)
- Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics: 0.967 (down from 1.032)
- Robotica: 0.880 (down from 1.032)
- Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems: 0.827 (down from 0.829)
- International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems: 0.821 (up from 0.375)
- Industrial Robot: 0.690 (up from 0.600)
- Advanced Robotics: 0.510 (down from 0.571)
Finally, did you know that Google Scholar has its own version of the journal impact factor? It’s called the h5-index, which is the largest number h of articles published by a given journal or conference in the past five years that were already cited at least h times. I like this index better because it’s much more difficult to manipulate. Google’s list of publications in robotics is headed by none other than IEEE’s International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA). See you in Hong-Kong next June.