January 2009

 

OPHTHALMOLOGY NEWS

 

Quality versus quantity


by Matt Young EyeWorld Contributing Editor

 

 

The 30 most-published authors on cataract and refractive surgery clearly wield influence. Where do they hail from? Where do they publish? How are the journals in which they publish generally perceived? These questions and others were answered by a study in the early 2008 issue of Clinical & Experimental Ophthalmology.

“In this study, we have identified the most-prolific authors on the topics of ‘cataract’ and ‘LASIK’ and their preferred journals for publication and performed citation analysis on their most-cited articles,” wrote study co-author Charles N.J. McGhee, Ph.D., F.R.C.Ophth., Department of Ophthalmology, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.

Their research found that these authors published 80% of their work in only 10 journals, and that among these, more than a third of the work (35.6%) was published in the Journal of Cataract & Refractive Surgery. Further, the United States was the most well represented source country in which the work originated, accounting for 33% of articles, followed by Australia at 20%, Austria at 17%, and both Germany and Japan at 7%.

Looking deeper

So does this information have any bearing on how these top journals actually are regarded? Not really. Journals aren’t considered prestigious because they have top researchers’ articles within their pages. They’re not considered important if their articles are reported from the United States as opposed to from Estonia. “Although journal prestige and quality may be judged by peer review, in recent years citation analysis, in the form of JIF, has become a surrogate measure of journal quality owing to the current, numerically biased climate,” Dr. McGhee wrote. “The JIF is a bibliometric parameter based on the number of times papers in a journal are cited by other peer-reviewed papers, and is published annually by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) in their annual Journal Citation Reports. Since its inception by Garfield in 1955, the JIF has become widely accepted as the primary key indicator of a journal’s quality.”

In this report, Dr. McGhee did consider the importance of citations and observed the three most-cited articles by each of the 30 most-published authors. He tallied a total of 64 articles, due to the fact that sometimes citations were produced by more than one of the 30 authors. Thirty-one percent of articles were published in the Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. Twenty percent were published in Ophthalmology, 11% in Archives of Ophthalmology, 8% in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, and 6% came from the American Journal of Ophthalmology, as well as from the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

Other points of intrigue

The most-published author in these combined areas produced only 1% of the total number of articles recorded, demonstrating the breadth of research performed.

“Half of the 30 most-prolific authors published their articles in seven journals or less despite there being close to over 600 journals,” Dr. McGhee noted. Most institutions the researchers represented were university hospitals. These most-published authors were not the most cited authors. “Interestingly, the single most-cited article of these 64 most-cited articles in the field of ‘cataract’ and ‘LASIK’ only ranked twelfth in all of the 5225 articles identified under these two topics in terms of citation count, with the first 11 articles, each cited between 103 and 854 times, all having been written by authors not ranked in the top 30,” Dr. McGhee noted. The first, second, and third most-cited articles were published not in subspecialty journals, but in elite general medical journals. Asked why the most-cited authors tend not to be the most published, Mark Packer, M.D., clinical associate professor of ophthalmology, Casey Eye Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Ore., suggested that they aim for quality rather than quantity. One example, Howard Gimbel, M.D., comes to mind, he said. Dr. Gimbel is an author of a capsulorhexis study “that is cited all the time,” Dr. Packer said. “If you’re writing anything about the capsule, you need to cite that reference.” But Dr. Gimbel is not a prolific author in the peer review literature. “Plenty of people publish more papers,” Dr. Packer said. Another author is Brian Little, M.D., who developed a technique to rescue the capsulorhexis from a radial tear-out. “He is not someone who has spent a lot of time submitting articles for peer review,” Dr. Packer said. “He’s a teacher of trainee surgeons. But everybody talks about that maneuver now. Once you see it, you think, ‘I’m going to use it. And reference it.’”

Editors’ note: Dr. McGhee has no financial interests related to this study. Dr. Packer has no financial interests related to his comments.

Contact information

McGhee: c.mcghee@auckland.ac.nz
Packer: 541-687-2110, mpacker@finemd.com

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