It’s that time of year again, when I post my list of selected impact factors. Controversial as impact factors are, they remain the main way in which journal quality is judged. The higher the impact factor, the more sought after the journal, as publishing in the top journals (especially Nature and Science) can make or break a scientist’s career.

So how did the “competitors” do in this yearly war? I have selected a few journals that I find interesting personally, and are relevant to the research I am familiar with. This year, I decided to add some information about the open access policies of each journal, as I believe that more and more scientists might make their decision about where to publish based on the public availability of their work. Or maybe I am just hoping that they will! Here we go:

Journal Impact Factors 2012 Impact Factors 2011 5-year Impact Factors Open Access?
Nature 38.597 36.280 38.159 NO
Nature Biotechnology 32.438 23.268 32.182 NO
Cell 31.957 32.403 34.366 After 12 months
Science 31.027 31.201 33.587 NO
PLoS Biology 12.690 11.452 13.447 YES
Molecular Systems Biology 11.340 8.626 12.392 YES
PNAS USA 9.737 9.681 10.583 Public Access after 6 months
Nucleic Acids Research 8.278 7.417 8.055 YES
Metabolic Engineering 6.859 5.614 6.696 No, but supports OA option*
Bioinformatics 5.323 5.468 6.911 No, but supports OA option^
J of Proteome Research 5.056 5.113 5.223 No, but supports OA option
PLoS Comput. Biology 4.867 5.215 5.939 YES
FEBS Journal 4.250 3.790 3.600 NO
PLoS ONE 3.730 4.092 4.244 YES
FEBS Letters 3.582 3.538 3.478 No, but supports OA option*
BMC Bioinformatics 3.024 2.751 3.510 YES
BMC Systems Biology 2.982 3.148 3.300 YES
J Mathematical Biology 2.366 2.963 2.733 No but supports OA option 
J Theoretical Biology 2.351 2.208 2.496 No, but supports OA option*
J Computational Biology 1.564 1.546 1.722 No, but supports OA option
IET Systems Biology 1.535 1.349 1.783 No, but supports OA option

The trend of “big journals getting bigger and small journals getting smaller” continued for another year. And it seems like almost every publishing house nowadays offers at least some open access option, if not having already fully embraced open access publishing.

Information about all journals can be accessed online on the ISI website, but a subscription is required. Accessing the website through a university IP address will usually do the trick.

* Elsevier journals that support Open Access publication of articles in subscription journals. 

^ Oxford University Press journals for which authors are given the option of paying a charge to make their paper OA (Oxford Open).

Have I left some interesting journals out of my table? Drop me a line and I will be happy to add any suggestions.