Journal Impact Factor

The latest Journal Citation Reports and 2023 Journal Impact Factors (JIFs) were recently released. As expected, the 2023 JIFs of the International Journal of Public Health (IJPH; JIF = 2.6) and Public Health Reviews (PHR; JIF = 3.5) have both decreased compared to last year, by 43% and 36% respectively. Indeed, 81% of all journals in the “Public, Environmental and Occupational Health” subject category have seen their JIF decrease, by up to 80%.

IJPH and PHR are in a group of journals with a 35-50% JIF decline that includes Lancet Public Health, Lancet Global Health, Frontiers in Public Health and the European Journal of Epidemiology. Many other journals including Lancet and NEJM also saw large JIF decreases within this range.

The widespread decline in the 2023 JIF has occurred in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. The 2023 JIF is calculated using citations in 2023 to publications from 2021 and 2022 (numerator), and the total number of publications classed as citable items from 2021 and 2022 (denominator). Citations in 2023 have not matched the pandemic-related peak in publications in 2022, having decreased by 28% across the subject category compared to last year. In the case of IJPH, the JIF decrease may have been amplified by the 2021 move to Open Access and a technical issue during the first year of transition where IJPH publications were not listed in PubMed.

This pattern demonstrates once more that the JIF should not be used as a proxy for quality. The Editors of IJPH and PHR continue with their efforts to maintain the high standards of the fully independent SSPH+ journals, and we greatly appreciate the enormous efforts undertaken by our publisher Frontiers to abate the strongly increasing threats from paper mills and other unethical practices faced by all respected journals.

We would like to take the opportunity to thank to all authors, reviewers and editors who have helped keep our standards high.