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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.

Adapting to Scientific Styles of Writing by Katherine Reekie

Katherine Reekie is PhD2Published’s new Science Correspondent and she has recently joined Twitter as @katreekie.

Anyone who has ever read a scientific research article will be familiar with the somewhat formal and impersonal writing style in which they tend to be written. Adapting to reading this kind of prose can be a challenge. The way they are written can be very different to the informal style which tends to be used for most other forms of modern communication, and it is this “scientific style” which is in part to blame for the reputation of scientific articles being complicated and hard to understand. But how about writing it? It is unlikely that most people will have been required to write in this style before they are an undergraduate student, and even then it may only be for a project report in the final year. There is often no formal training for this kind of writing, and the degree of assistance provided can vary greatly. I know from my own experiences of editing undergraduate reports that one of the things which can be difficult to get across is the need for a specific tone and format, which is often in complete contrast to anything the student has written before. Adapting to this way of writing can also be one of the hardest parts of writing a PhD thesis or journal article, as it is something that scientists often pick up as they go along, rather than being taught.

So can the “scientific style” really be defined? It must be emphasised that the way in which research is reported tends to be guided by convention rather than anything else. In general, the tone is impersonal and devoid of opinion, factual and often highly technical. Scientific reports are intended to be functional, and the way in which they are written is designed to emphasise the facts without distracting from them with the use of flowery language.

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Katherine Reekie – Publishing in the Sciences

In this post Katherine Reekie discusses the issues surrounding publishing in the sciences.

“Publish or Perish” is a mantra which will be familiar to many of those working in academia. The pressure to publish your research in order to advance an academic career can be intense. PhD students and early career researchers in particular often find that their career prospects seem to go hand in hand with their publication record. I have heard several colleagues lament, after an unsuccessful interview, that the successful candidate had several first author papers. In the current climate, where funding for research is harder to come by, the competition for research posts is increasing, and having a good publication or two under your belt can be a considerable advantage.

The ultimate aim for a researcher in any field is to publish their research – to have it put out there in the public domain, to share their findings with the rest of the scientific community and to receive well deserved recognition for their research. The format of publication may take a variety of formats, for example journal articles, a book chapter, short news articles, reviews or letters. In Science, my own field, publishing of novel research is most typically in the form of a research paper in a scientific journal. These papers can be the result of many years of work, carried out by a great number of people. Due to an emphasis on collaboration, which is often encouraged by calls for grants involving groups of researchers all over the world to work together on the same project, the resulting research article can be a product of the work of many individuals. Therefore, rather than single or dual authored papers it is common to have several tens of contributing authors on a research article, and this number can grow to hundreds for large consortia, for example the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium which published the sequence of the human genome in 2001. Read more