Successful open-access journals grow quickly and are sometimes faced with the notion that publishing a large number of papers somehow decreases the overall quality. PLOS ONE surprised the world when they received their first impact factor, which was in the top 90th percentile of all 10,000 or so journals listed in the 2009 Journal Citation Reports (JCR) and published by Thomson Reuters each year.
Similarly, when we did the analysis for our 16 Frontiers journals currently with impact factors, we found their rankings soared as high as in the 93rd percentile and on average are ranked in the top 12% of the 11,149 journals listed in the in the 2014 Journal Citations Reports published by Thomson Reuters in 2015 (See Figure 1).
2014 journal ranking by impact factor (11,149 journals)
Frontiers builds journals around research communities in specific fields and specialties and publishes articles that are scientifically correct and rigorously peer-reviewed. Nineteen of our journals have already passed the rigorous screening Thomson Reuters applies to be indexed and listed in the JCR.
Many of the Frontiers journals are still at early stages of their development, but we still wanted to determine how they were performing. The results of the analysis on impact factor obtained, articles published, and total citations generated were reported in a series of recent Frontiers blog posts. (see the complete analysis for: Neurosciences, Human Neuroscience, Psychology, Plant Science, Microbiology, Physiology and Pharmacology. The performance of the Frontiers journals was not only stellar when compared to other open access journals, but also against subscription journals, where articles are mostly preselected for impact.
2014 open-access journal ranking by impact factor and article numbers
Category of Psychology (19 open access journals, 597 total journals)
Frontiers has two journals listed in the JCR category of Psychology.
Frontiers in Psychology was launched in 2010. In just 4 years, it has become the largest and the 2nd most-cited psychology journal in the world. Read the complete Frontiers in Psychology analysis.
Category of Neurosciences (36 open access journals, 252 total journals)
In the JCR category of Neuroscience, Frontiers has 10 journals listed under the field of Frontiers in Neuroscience.
The field of Frontiers in Neuroscience, established in 2007, has become the #1 most cited and #1 largest open-access publisher of Neuroscience. It is also and the 3rd most cited and 4th largest Neuroscience publisher overall. Read the complete Frontiers in Neuroscience analysis
In just 6 years, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, a specialty journal in the field of Frontiers in Neuroscience, has become the #1 most cited journal in psychology, the #1 most cited open-access neuroscience journal and the 10th most cited journal in all of neuroscience. It is also the 2nd and 3rd largest journal in all of psychology and neuroscience, respectively. Read the complete Frontiers in Human Neuroscience analysis.
Category of Microbiology (15 open access journals, 119 total journals)
Frontiers in Microbiology was launched in 2010 and has become the 2nd most cited open-access Microbiology journal. It is also the 5th largest and the 12th most-cited Microbiology journal in the world. Read the complete Frontiers in Microbiology analysis.
Category of Pharmacology & Pharmacy (23 open access journals, 255 total journals)
Frontiers in Pharmacology was launched in 2010. In just 4 years, it has become the 2nd most cited and 3rd largest open-access journal in Pharmacology & Pharmacy. Read the complete Frontiers in Pharmacology analysis.
Category of Plant Sciences (33 open access journals, 204 total journals)
Frontiers in Plant Science launched in 2010 and has become the largest and most cited open-access journal in Plant Science. It is also the 3rd largest and the 7th most-cited Plant Science journal in the world. Read the complete Frontiers in Plant Science analysis.
Category of Physiology (10 open access journals, 83 total journals)
Frontiers in Physiology launched in 2010. In just 4 years it has become the #1 most cited and largest open-access journal in Physiology. It is also the #2 largest and the 4th most cited Physiology journal in the world. Read the complete Frontiers in Physiology analysis.
Key to success
The results are surprising given that on average a much larger number of papers tended to be published in the Frontiers journals compared to other journals in their category (increasing size is generally believed to lead to a decrease in impact factor) and even more surprising because Frontiers applies an impact neutral peer-review. This means that we publish all articles that are scientifically correct.
We engineered the Collaborative Peer Review with a review mandate focused on enhancing article quality by means of rigorous and constructive feedback from expert reviewers, quick and direct interactions between authors, reviewers and the editor enabled by our review forum platform, and we enhance transparency by acknowledging reviewers and editors on the published articles. This performance analysis indicates that the impact neutral Collaborative Peer Review conducted at Frontiers together with an outstanding editorial board has become a powerful model for publishing academic papers.
We believe the keys to this success are;
- Frontiers impact neutral peer-review is a rigorous scientific review, of the kind that one gets in specialised journals. The main difference is that reviewers are not asked to predict the significance of the paper.
- Frontiers provides an interactive peer-review forum which establishes a direct online discussion between authors, reviewers and editors, which enhances constructive collaboration.
- The names of the editor and reviewers are published along with the paper for acknowledgment, accountability and transparency.
- Review, Associate and Chief Editors have complete editorial freedom through an online Digital Editorial Office ensuring that Frontiers, as a publisher, does not steer the direction of science.
- Editors and reviewers are all external scientists not financially incentivised to accept papers.
- Frontiers does not impose or operate according to a rejection rate and rather allows it to be determined by the dynamics of peer-review under complete Editorial Independence.
- Frontiers has the largest editorial boards made up of the most cited scientists allowing optimal matching of reviewers to papers – a process managed by an Associate Editor and leading scientists.
- Frontiers provides a range of services to enhance discoverability of articles to ensure that each paper gets maximal visibility and the full impact it deserves.