I really should call attention to this blast against journal impact factors from the folks at Rockefeller University Press. They have a number of complaints, among them that the folks at Thomson who put the numbers together are inconsistent about what gets counted as a citable article and what gets tossed aside as “front matter” (editorials, news updates, etc.)
They went so far as to purchase the Thompson data to check the impact factors for their own journals, but despite several attempts, they could never get anything that matched up with the official figures. The explanations they received for this problem were of gradually decreasing credibility.
” When we requested the database used to calculate the published impact factors (i.e., including the erroneous records), Thomson Scientific sent us a second database. But these data still did not match the published impact factor data. This database appeared to have been assembled in an ad hoc manner to create a facsimile of the published data that might appease us. It did not.
It became clear that Thomson Scientific could not or (for some as yet unexplained reason) would not sell us the data used to calculate their published impact factor. If an author is unable to produce original data to verify a figure in one of our papers, we revoke the acceptance of the paper. We hope this account will convince some scientists and funding organizations to revoke their acceptance of impact factors as an accurate representation of the quality—or impact—of a paper published in a given journal.”
There’s now some competition for journal ratings, at any rate. You can search this list for free – they have their own system for ranking journals, which I don’t completely understand, but the order of the chemistry titles is not obviously crazy. It’s hard to keep the review journals from dominating any such list, and that’s what they do here. Accounts of Chemical Research, for example, usually come out pretty high, although its actual let’s-see-what’s-in-there readership is probably not too impressive.
What fascinates me, though, are the lower reaches. I have a grim curiosity about the least impactful titles, the unciteable compost bins whose pages never flip. Sorting things out that way, you find journals in which, it's safe to say, every single author wishes that their paper could have gone somewhere else. In this better-than-nothing league (an arguable assertion, in many cases) you find what you expect to find: Egyptian Journal of Chemistry, the evocatively abbreviated J. Chem. Soc. Pak. andBull. Chem. Soc. Ethiop., among others. You may have seen these things come up in particularly diligent online searches.
But have you ever seen anything from Chemical Papers? There's an exciting name for you - that one's from Slovakia. Or Oxidation Communications? Did you even know that a journal with that title existed? (It's Bulgarian). Journal of Natural Gas Chemistry? Chemical Journal on Internet, from Switzerland, of all places? Maybe I don't get around enough.
Another thing you learn is that some journals you've heard of are not doing very well. It seems safe to say, for example, that the Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry is not working out so far, since it's face-down in the mud at number 468 out of 470 titles. The Journal of Structural Chemistry could apparently vanish from the earth without many people noticing, as could Chemistry of Natural Compounds, and there's a whole list of Russian and Chinese journals that publish large numbers of manuscripts to very little effect.