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Genetics Journals: A Top 5

Today’s post is written by our resident Science Correspondant Katherine Reekie (@katreekie). She has written interesting posts for PhD2Published on adapting to scientific writing and Publishing in the Sciences. Here she shares her Top 5 choices of Genetics journals

Recently on Twitter, PhD2Published posed the question “What is your academic discipline and what are your top 5 recommended high impact journals?” Well, I am a geneticist, and for my top 5 I picked, in no particular order:


1)      Nature Genetics

2)      Human Molecular Genetics

3)      American Journal of Human Genetics (AJHG)

4)      Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

5)      Nucleic Acids Research

This is a somewhat arbitrary list, which was drawn up on the spur of the moment. Other journals which could well have made the list are Genome Research, Trends in Genetics, Human Mutation…I could go on. So how did I come up with my list? For me, it was down to journals in which I (and my colleagues) either hope to publish, regularly find interesting articles, or regularly cite. I excluded a number of excellent review journals, as for this purpose I was thinking in terms of original research only.

Subsequent to coming up with this list, I did a bit of research on the impact factors of my chosen journals, and was not surprised to find that all five were towards the top of the scale for genetics, with Nature Genetics at the very top with an astounding 2010 impact factor of 36.3 (according to the Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Reports) – but then the Nature journals are always very highly ranked (to put this into perspective, the others titles on my list had impact factors ranging from 7.8 – 11.6, all of which are considered high). The “Impact Factor” is the system most commonly used to rank journals. This figure is calculated annually, by taking into account the number of times papers from the journal have been cited in the two previous years, and dividing this number by the number of articles and reviews which were published in the journal in those same two years. So the 2011 impact factor = (number of 2010 & 2009 citations)/(number of 2010 & 2009 articles & reviews).

It is important to note that the “impact” of a journal is not always the most important factor to bear in mind when considering publication. It is certainly worth researching the impact factors of journals in your discipline, and thinking about where your research might fit in.  However, you must also take into account which journal is most appropriate for your work in terms of its “novelty value” (groundbreaking research will always be of interest to the very top journals), strength of the findings (how robust are your data and conclusions) and also your target audience (who you are hoping will read your paper). For example, Nature has a very high impact factor, but it covers a broad subject area and focuses on cutting edge research. Therefore it is unlikely to be the best fit for a paper which describes an association study which considers a single region of the genome. Compare this with Human Molecular Genetics, which has a specific section dedicated to reporting the results of association studies – clearly a much better fit for this research. Typically, authors aim high with the first submission of a journal article. However, the higher the impact of the journal, the more submissions they are likely to receive and therefore the more competition there will be for publication. Subsequent submission to a good journal with a slightly lower (but still high) impact factor is a perfectly respectable option!

Brief note from Anna: What are the Top 5 journals in your discipline? Tell us on Twitter (@PhD2Published) and DM us if you wish to contribute a blog.

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