Clarivate’s Web of Inconsistency

I am involved in the (painfully slow) process of trying to get the Open Journal of Astrophysics listed by Clarivate, which some researchers – or rather, their funding agencies – feel to be important. One of the reasons for this seems to be that some researchers are only allowed to publish in journals with an official Journal Impact Factor (JIF) and Clarivate has set itself up as the gatekeeper for those, although they can easily be calculated using data in the public domain.

Leaving Clarivate aside for a moment, I was googling around this morning and found an independent listing of the Journal Impact Factor for the Open Journal of Astrophysics for 2021, namely 7.4, and found the following description.

Nice. Not bad, considering the Open Journal of Astrophysics is run on a shoestring.

Anyway, although I have grave reservations about the JIF, wanting to make the Open Journal available to as wide a range of authors as possible, I applied for listing by Clarivate in August 2022. I waited and waited. Then, a couple of weeks ago somebody asked me on social media about it and I tagged Clarivate in my reply. No doubt by sheer coincidence I received a reply from Clarivate last week, just a matter of days after mentioning them on social media. A similar thing has happened before. It seems that if you want to ask Clarivate something you have to ask them in public.

At least they replied eventually. We’re still not listed though. Not yet anyway. Among the feedback I received was this:

The volume of scholarly works published annually is expected to be within ranges appropriate to the subject area. However, we have noticed that the publication volume is not in line with similar journals covering this subject area.

When we first started up the Open Journal of Astrophysics I expected this would be an issue as we are new and have published many fewer papers than the big hitters in the field such as MNRAS and ApJ. However, after doing a bit of research among the astronomical journals actually listed on the Web of Science, I changed my mind and thought it wouldn’t be a problem. It seems I was wrong.

Take, for example, the Serbian Astronomical Journal which is listed by Clarivate. I’m mentioning this journal not because I have anything against it: it’s a free Open Access journal and that is very laudable. I just want to use it as an examplar to demonstrate an inconsistency in the above feedback.

According to its web page, the Serbian Astronomical Journal (SerAJ) has an official impact factor of 1.1. A search on NASA/ADS reveals that since 2019 it has published 46 papers which have garnered a total of 69 citations between them. This journal has been published under its current name since 1998.

The Open Journal of Astrophysics (OJAp) is not listed by Clarivate so does not have an official journal impact factor, but I have calculated one here and it is also mentioned above. Since 2019 the Open Journal of Astrophysics has published 69 papers (actually 70, but one has not yet appeared on NASA/ADS). These papers have so far received a total of 1365 citations.

So OJAp has published 50% more papers than SerAJ, with twenty times the citation impact, and a far higher JIF, yet OJAp is not listed by Clarivate but SerAJ is. Can anyone out there explain the reason to me, or shall I assume the obvious?

2 Responses to “Clarivate’s Web of Inconsistency”

  1. Shantanu Says:

    Peter, did you point this out to them?

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